Let's Digress

Ain’t No Party Like A Gatsby Party

There ain’t no party like a Gatsby party, and Gatsby was a fellow who knew how to party.

 Being the introvert that I am, his parties both frighten me more than I care to admit and intrigue me like no other. What really intrigues me though, is his motivation behind the party, why he threw them.

For those of you who haven’t read the book or seen the movie,  Gatsby basically threw extravagant parties for this girl he had taken quite a shine to.

I would also like to take a moment and say that I don’t feel bad about giving away the spoiler since the book was written in 1925 and everyone has had plenty of time to read it.

Anyway, Gatsby met this chick, Daisy, back in his younger days and they had some romantic sparks. Then he went to a war or something, did some stuff, acquired a lot of money somewhere along the way, and built a giant house on the shore of a seemingly random lake in the seemingly random city of New Egg.

The kicker: Gatsby was keeping tabs on the Daisy chick the whole time and had bought a huge mansion directly across the lake from her house…without her knowing it.

Then Mr. Gatsby would throw these extravagant and awesome parties with hundreds of people, hoping that Daisy would happen show up so they could reconnect again and let their romantic sparks fly.

Daisy’s cousin, Nick, somehow gets involved with Gatsby when he moves into the neighborhood and, naturally, Gatsby tries to use Nick to get close to Daisy.

Oh yeah, Daisy is also off the market; she’s married or engaged or otherwise romantically occupied or something.

In the story, Daisy doesn’t remember Gatsby initially, then there’s a turf war of the hearts, a car crash, some people die, and Gatsby still hasn’t gotten the girl he’s been pining over yet.

Nick and Lady Jordan started to have a romantic thing, but it didn’t really develop that much in the book. The focus was on Gatsby and Daisy and Gatsby’s obsession with her.

In the end , Gatsby dies…and he still doesn’t get the girl.

Wait. Is Gatsby is too old and irrelevant compared to modern-day romance? Alright, let’s take a look at all of the recent love stories: The Divergent series, 50 Shades, Twilight, Safe Haven, Dear John, The Notebook, well, pretty much anything written by Nicholas Sparks or Stephanie Meyer in general.

They’re all emotion-based loves and they’re all unnecessarily messy and complicated.

50 Shades is based solely on passion, infatuation, and obsession.

The Tris and Four dynamic in Divergent is a bunch of youthful dysfunction, insecurity, infatuation, and in-the-moment emotions, which is labeled as “normal” and “good.”

Edward and Bella is also more along the lines of infatuation and obsession. Oh, and Edward is really really really old compared to the mortal and teenage Bella.

One of the concerns I have with this is that teenagers, children, and even adults are using these kinds of love stories as a baseline for how they think love ought to work. Simply put, they’re using it as the standard for how their romantic relationships should be.

This system of love is broken. Horrifically, catastrophically shattered.

Oh yeah, this is also the part where I’m supposed to throw out a disclaimer and say that I’m single and not romantically attached to anyone, so this could all just be my naive perception of love and relationships and not be at all practical, realistic, or feasible.

Also, I’m a hopeless romantic at heart. Hallmark Channel romantic Christmas movies are a kryptonite of mine, as sad and pathetic as it may be (don’t worry, fellas, I handed over my stereotypical Man Card a very long time ago). I love the idea of love, which is part of the reason why I wanted to write this. It’s beautiful, warm, fuzzy, happy, wonderful, and about six different kinds of awesome.

What if love wasn’t just an uncontrollable emotion that takes over us when we meet that special someone? What if it was a decision instead?

For the sake of my theory, let’s pretend it’s 80% conscious decision and 20% emotion.

Obviously, love is an emotion. The dictionary even says that, so we know it’s legitimate. It’s an emotion of deep happiness, pleasure, affection, attraction, blah blah blah. In his book The Four LovesCS Lewis broke love down into main categories of Eros, Charity, Affection, and Friendship.

So, yes, love has a lot of emotion involved.

But what if this Gatsby-Divergent-50 Shades-Nicky Sparks love has too much emotion involved? What if it’s out of balance and doesn’t have enough of the decision component? Isn’t that what usually happens when relationships are only passion and infatuation filled?

What happens when the “new relationship” high ends? What happens when the initial infatuation and attraction and passion fade away? What happens when one or both people fall out of love? Can someone even fall out of love? What happens when the rose colored glasses fall off? Or worse, break beyond repair? What happens when the big fight comes and the other person isn’t even remotely lovable?

Then what? Does the whole relationship dissolve quietly into the night like nothing ever happened? Does it shatter the hearts and lives of those involved? Does it push on and endure? Does it just end and both parties go their separate ways, each in search of a new love?

If love is primarily a decision and not completely emotional, then none of that is a concern.

Assuming my theory is correct, then the majority of loving someone is just consciously making the decision to do what’s best for the other person, regardless of what that means for oneself. It’s being “for” the other person and on their side, which is much different than always conceding to their wants and desires.

Emotions generally view life though a magnifying lens, focused on a particular event and point in time. Actually, that’s also how our memories work. Our memories are stored in emotion. If we think back to a childhood memory—or any significant memory—there’s most likely an emotion attached to it. It’s just how we remember things. Essentially, emotions get up close and personal with events and don’t generally look at the big picture since they’re focused on that event, on that set of in-the-now set of life circumstances.

Logical and conscious decisions look at the big picture. Whenever we have to make a big decision about anything, we usually try to keep it as unbiased, logical, practical, and objective as possible. After all, it is a big decision and shouldn’t be clouded by emotions, which can change suddenly and be quite fickle.

Ever had buyer’s remorse? If yes, then you know what it’s like to have your higher decision making processes clouded by in-the-now emotions. If not, give it time. We all have it at one point or another. Basically, buyer’s remorse is what happens after something expensive is purchased on a whim and later, when those in-the-moment emotions fade away, we realize that we really shouldn’t have bought that awesome brand new underwater video camera. Sure, it was a gift for yourself in honor of being Best Man at your little brother’s wedding, but it really wasn’t the wisest decision to buy it right then.

Unfortunately, that’s a true story. It really is a nice video camera though. It has also been sitting untouched in the back seat of my car for about two months now.

Becoming romantically involved with anyone—loving them—is a big deal, no matter how it’s sliced. Opening your life and heart up to someone else is an act that’s so personal, so intimate, that it can metaphorically (and sometimes literally) destroy you if it goes south. Just ask anyone who’s ever been burned in a relationship, they’ll tell you how much it hurts and how much of a shock to their system it was. Oh, and let’s not forget the deep psychological scars it can leave, which sometimes don’t ever fade. Contrary to popular belief, time doesn’t heal all wounds. But that’s a blog for another time.

So, both loving someone else and being loved are significant life events that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Ever.

Wouldn’t it be better to choose to love someone than to let one’s emotions run wild and do what they please?

Wouldn’t it mean more to know that someone has chosen to love you rather than knowing that their affection towards you is mainly dictated by their in-the-moment emotions?

Wouldn’t both choosing and being chosen make it more of a profound love? A deeper, more highly evolved love than one directed primarily by emotions?

If romantically inclined people made the conscious decision to love, instead of only doing what their emotions told them to do, then I think it would drastically reduce both the number of people who have buyer’s remorse of the heart and the number of people who get burned in relationships.

Not to mention that the person on the receiving end of the decision-based love would have the reassurance that the other person chose to love them based on reason and logic, which would conveniently fix a lot of the worry and uncertainties that overly emotional relationships usually have.

Personally, I’ll take decision-based love over the emotion-driven love hands down every time.

But then again, I’m single, youngish, inexperienced with life, and not in a relationship, so I may just be out of touch with reality when it comes to the intricacies of how love works.

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