When I was young my mom frequently read “The Man Who Kept His Heart In A Bucket” aloud to me.
This book is about a guy who gets hurt by a relationship and resolves to stop the pain by physically taking out his heart and sticking it in a bucket to keep it safe.
I got distracted by the fact that this lumbering automaton was somehow living with vital organs outside his body, and I didn’t really learn the book’s lesson.
Flash forward to sophomore year of high school. After my very first girlfriend and I broke up that year, I thought that was that. I just gave up on dating.
But not forever.
I, just like the main character in that book, realized that it’s just too hard to keep your heart in a bucket.
It’s cold and uncomfortable and you should just stick that thing back into your chest.
I look around and a lot of folks seem to have their hearts in buckets.
Our society supports the bucket as a desired course of action.
In this world those who care the least are labeled the coolest.
To that end, students at this school are very cautious and nonchalant. When it’s cool not to care, sometimes you can be way too cool. And in that lies madness.
It seems, from talking to people, that most of the time bad relationships will lead to caring less about future opportunities.
If you were an investment banker and you make a bum call on a stock, and you end up losing $100,000, what’s the first thing to do?
You better spring into action and turn that loss around. No one will advise that you immediately give up for a while.
Most people will, actually, compare themselves to investment bankers if you ask them about past relationships.
They’ll complain about how they wasted so much time, money, or emotion on the person in question. I’ve said that; you’ve probably said that.
Time is finite, although you have exactly as much in this moment as you would if you hadn’t “wasted” it on this relationship.
Money is finite, and you might very well have wasted some on this person.
But emotion isn’t finite. You can’t run out and exist as an empty shell. If you’re alive, you will have more emotion.
There’s no way to store it up for a later date, or sell it off if you have a surplus.
You give out emotion, you get emotion in return, but you aren’t trading a commodity. You are giving something away freely because you have plenty of it.
Just because you spend a lot of emotion hoping that the Heels will win at basketball doesn’t mean you can’t hope for them to win at soccer.
The real waste is not the time or the money you spent on the person.
The real waste on your end is taking too long to recover.
Visiting the past, looking around, and thinking about what happened is one thing.
But you can’t live there for too long before your fingertips start disappearing like in “Back to the Future.”
And without fingertips you won’t be able to text that nice boy in art class or that funny girl at the back of the philosophy recitation and ask them out.
Reed Watson is a junior psychology major from Durham. Contact Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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