There's a lot of talk about love these days. I feel as though I've been having the same conversation over and over, with everyone from my middle school students to the friendly bar owner in one of Seoul's busiest neighbourhoods.
A couple of weeks ago, one of my fifteen-year-old students approached me and said her boyfriend broke up with her. She was extremely sad, which was such a shift from how I'd seen her just last month -- bright-eyed and beaming.
"I love him, teacher," she said.
She'd met him at an amusement park in Seoul, and their relationship lasted just over three months. Anyone can agree that three months in middle school land is a pretty long time. A couple of weeks went by, and I approached her again to see how she was feeling.
"Still... confused," she answered. "I just... love him."
"What do you mean," I asked. "How do you know about love?"
She looked at me and started smiling. I could see the pictures circling through her mind; memories of time spent together.
"I know love means happy," she started. After struggling with the thought for a little while, she went on. "Love... it means even when you are sad, you cannot feel sad."
I looked at her, with an utter loss for words. How would I - jaded and bah-humbugy - respond to that? I simply smiled, told her she'd be OK, and asked her to allow herself to feel any emotion that came her way.
"... even when you are sad, you cannot feel sad."
It made sense in a strange way, because love always wins. It's the strongest emotion out there.
I just posed this question on the SFTC Facebook fanpage (which, if you haven't already joined, you should!): "Which is a stronger emotion - Love or Anger?"
So far, commenters agree that anger and other emotions are fleeting, but love overpowers them all, and lasts the longest. I tend to think so too.
When it comes down to it, I feel that life is rooted in love. Whether or not people admit to it, a majority of our daily actions stem from love for something... or someone. And though our society is rapidly turning into a 'me' culture, deep down, everyone longs to be loved, and fears leaving this planet feeling unloved.
Am I right?
I got talking to a bar owner on Saturday night; a Korean woman in her mid-thirties who's witnessed the rapid generational and cultural shifts in the city. I was immediately intrigued by her, because, as a bar owner, I figured she must have met a lot of people from all walks of life, with strange and interesting stories in tow.
She laughed when I told her this, and said, matter-of-factly, that she was brimming with stories!
"This is a story of strange love," she said. "I don't understand, but I have this friend. Everyday she calls me and tells me she broke up with her boyfriend... and she cries. I tell her it will be OK, and she hangs up. She calls back the next day and tells me they are back together... and she laughs. I tell her I'm happy for her, and she hangs up."
"So... what's that got to do with love?" I asked.
"She's been doing this every day for the past two years."
I couldn't help but laugh. Talk about a bitter-sweet relationship!
But I guess her point was that love doesn't make sense... and why should it have to? It's an emotion that manifests itself into different forms to work in particular relationships. And as long as it works, why question it?
Because regardless of all the fighting, the emotional wars, the broken hearts and pain (sometimes self-inflicted), love - in one shape or another - always wins. And deep down, even the strongest cynics know that.