An Infliction of the Heart

I have read far too many romance novels.

I’m in the middle of watching “Becoming Jane” and it’s literally killing me. I feel my heart ache, and in the midst of a million different thoughts and emotions, that one keeps repeating:

I have read far too many romance novels.

It all started with Pride and Prejudice… or perhaps even as far back as Little Women. I read that book about ten times in only a couple years. And by the time Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre entered my life, I was lost. Lost to a world… which I am afraid may not exist. Caught up in clandestine, windswept moments that perhaps are not truly of this world.

However, in my life I have felt the tightening of moments – I have felt the air become taut and my heart cease to beat, lost in a moment where all that mattered was his breath against my ear and his fingertips grazing my palm. So in this way, I understand that the romance novel can be real. I have experienced passion that would in fact put the romance novel to shame, and yet…

The book always ends. The chapters close before we can truly feel the pain, the heartbreak. Life is indeed not a book, and therefore the pain is almost unbearable… for nothing has truly prepared us for it.

And what good are the romance novel moments… I take that back. The romance novel moments are everything… but then again, do I only feel this way because

I have read far too many romance novels?

Then again, there are people who have never touched a romance novel, and are completely swept up in the concept of love, as well. And LOVE – love, well that is an entirely different thing in itself. If love is the embodiment of the romance novel, then no wonder our hearts get broken when it doesn’t end on page three hundred with a cute little epilogue by the fire with the children on our laps and the kittens by the hearth.

Then again, if love is more practical than that, perhaps it is not something I want.

People stop their entire lives for love – or whatever concept of love they have developed. People drop out of school, abandon dreams, turn against their families, alter their souls… just to be in love. Simply TO BE with the person they love, and who hopefully… God willing… loves them back.

I cannot judge them. I am not allowed to point my finger at them, since I have done such things myself. I have stayed in unhealthy, even abusive, situations, because of love – because the romance novel trapped me in stolen embraces and windswept moments. A young boy traveled down a stream with me, and held my hand in the stolen secrets of the night, and I was lost to him. For over four years, I begged for that romance novel to end on page three hundred, and when it never did… when instead I received the repetitive devastation of the heart… well, I hardly knew how to handle it.

I didn’t read a romance novel for years.

Yet here I am, watching a stupid movie about Jane Austen, and everything is coming back to me. All the feelings, all the dreams. It was the romance novel that awakened me – it was the stupid romance novel that gave me reasons to live. And yes, it was the stupid romance novel that led to my broken, broken heart…

I am reminded again of my father’s words – “return to reality.” And yet, this trip these past few months has truly shown me that reality can mean a million different things – and that, yes, we are certainly in control of what our reality is and becomes.

In that case, I propose that the romance novel can indeed be real.

More recently, I have considered the idea that perhaps I am not meant to marry, or even to join my life with someone else. Perhaps my energies would be more aptly utilized in other realms… with writing, or charity, or counseling, or teaching.

However, tonight I am reminded of how catastrophically important the romance novel has always been to me.

I am scared to feel the power of the romance novel again. There, I have admitted it. I am terrified of feeling my heart awaken once more. When I feel it stir, even if only from the lines of a poem or the quote of a novel, I become paralyzed with fear. I do anything to temper the flames, and maintain indifference. People have previously criticized me for loving too much, caring too much, throwing myself too recklessly into the sunshine…

I am still reckless, but no longer with my heart.

So what is important? What truly matters in this life? Writing this has brought me no closer to the answers to such questions. Rather, I still feel a tight constriction in my chest, a labour to my breath. Tonight I have been reminded of thoughts and feelings I have had since I was very young… qualities of myself that have led me to be the person I am today. These are the same qualities that have inspired me to put a pen to paper, my eye to the lens, my presence on the stage… it is the very inspiration inside me. And yet is this desperate quest for Beauty and Authenticity which most of the time leaves me burdened, begging for something more from this life. It is as though I am begging for the flowers to open, and share with the world what I see beneath their petals.

And yet, the flowers will not listen, and even if they did, the world would not look.
Again, I have read far too many romance novels.

1 Comment

  1. surrealsparrow said,

    July 7, 2008 at 10:01 am

    And I’ve read too many fairy tales.

    I think every girl wants the romance novel and the fairy tale ending to come true. At least, we all start out that way before we are jaded by the world. And we become slightly bitter towards the very stories that have inspired us.

    Neither fairy tales nor romance novels are true to life. We must admit they are not reality. But there are truths hidden there that every girl recognizes as the way things ought to be, and that’s the beginning of my belief.

    A book that really put things into perspective for me was “Authentic Beauty” by Leslie Ludy. Your flowers won’t open no matter how much you beg. They just need a little Light, I think.

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