The following are approximately the first 1000 words from Chapter 1 of Jonar Nader’s book,
How to Lose Friends and Infuriate Lovers.
Why is it so difficult?
There is a problem in writing any book about love. The all-encompassing and all-consuming topic is an emotive one that cannot be expressed with mere words. You see, words are serial, in that they must come one after the other. Words are slow and cumbersome. They cannot truly express thoughts, and they are poor tools for conveying feelings.
Character by character, word by word, sentence by sentence, a book is supposed to help us to learn. Alas, on the subject of love, this seems impossible, because complex heart-wrenching mind-twisting feelings come in lumps — in huge cold gooey blobs that splatter. Orderly words cannot keep up. How can you write a real-time descriptive running commentary about a three-dimensional explosion? How can you run every which way, chasing each wayward fragment?
Feelings barge through. Uninvited, they push and they shove, and they demand immediate attention. Painful or joyous thoughts force themselves into our heart. No common courtesies. No ‘excuse-me’. No ‘would-you-mind?’ It’s just wallop! Take that. Listen up. Deal with this. Nag nag nag. It’s all three-dimensional, quadraphonic, heavy, confusing, and sticky. Incessant, never-ending agony. On the way in and on the way out of love, it’s agony.
When the loop slows down, guess what? It then accelerates all over again, automatically. Again and again. Then, just when you think that you have arrested the rhythm, it starts to fragment and surprise you randomly, differently, sneakily, in bits and pieces like a psychedelic tease show, set to music and a quickening beat that thumps and grinds, and all the while, you think, why me? How hard can it be? Why is it so difficult? It’s just love. All I wanted was to make someone happy. All I yearned for was for a wholesome relationship. That’s all. Nothing complex. To hug, to kiss, to cuddle, to love. To give. Not to take. So why is it so difficult?
Then, when it pleases the angels — those sneaky cheeky mischievous clowns — we find our true love. It’s all perfect, until it falls apart and then, wallop! Take that. Listen up. Deal with this. Nag nag nag. It’s all three-dimensional, holographic, painful, demanding, and prickly. Intense, ever-changing insults. Why oh why?
No book can keep pace with the action. Sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter… it’s all too slow. So why write about love and relationships? Because there is no other way. We mortals are not so good at doing the very thing that we desire most — to communicate our feelings to each other. Of course we communicate with art. And we say it with flowers and gifts and stares and whispers and smiles and touches, and through the most ubiquitous cry of all — the love song: that three-minute ding-dong that mixes poetry and anger and quandary and mystery with questions and queries and pleading and begging.
Words cannot describe — they can only trigger. So perhaps, while reading this book, these dead words will ignite thoughts and ideas that you can translate into solutions and shields. And only after you have finished reading, can you stack each sentence and compress each word inside a slingshot. Then, in one swift motion, you shoot the nugget toward the barrage of tormenting ferrets — those enemies that pull at your heart-strings and slow you down. Here’s the funny thing: our heart races, yet our soul grinds to an indolent limp. Our mind thrashes, while our spirit cops a battering. It’s a fast-paced slow motion. Hideous.
We intellectual animals, who roam the jungle fully clothed, find ourselves naked. So we buy more apparel and hoard more worldly goods. Maybe when we have more, we can feather our nest and deck-out our pad. Luxuries ease the pain. Indeed they do, for three seconds at a time. But what do we do on the fourth beat? We cry and wonder why. Why me? How hard is it? Surely it’s not me? God knows I’ve tried. I’ve changed. I’ve compromised. I’ve given. I’ve listened. What more can I do? It must be me. No damn it! Someone around here is a heartless snake, and I sure know it isn’t me. Give me back my life!
So, we philosophise. We muse. We investigate. We delve. We take a different tack. We slow down. We regain our composure. We smile more. We speak less. We ask, but we do not probe. We listen, but we do not judge. We mature. We give it another go. But there’s still something wrong. So we compartmentalise it into ‘them and us’. Men and women. Young and old. Rich and poor. Givers and takers. Experienced and green. We search for reasons. They must have lied. They must have been distracted. The devil got in the way. They suffered some imbalance. It must have been hormones. Why else were they unfaithful?
Again we try. We change. We compromise. We give. We listen. What more can we do? Could it be me? Then again, it might be you. All I know is that someone around here is a heartless snake, and I sure know it ain’t me. Give me back my life!
Like kids in a playground, we pack our toys and scatter. With each scuffle, the stakes grow higher. The pain is more intense, and the illusion of love becomes less realistic. Those of us who had ventured alone, turn to God; while those of us who had invited God on this journey, as a witness to our fair play, complain and turn away. Either way, we revisit the teachings of the sages.
Once again, we philosophise. Having given up on trying to read people, we inquire into human nature. What are we? Why do we yearn so much for that illusive intangible feeling of love? Then there is the biggest question of all: is it really better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all? Are you kidding? I’m not so sure. If you have loved intensely, and have yearned most earnestly, and have surrendered completely, then how can it be anything more than a slap in the face? It’s the biggest wallop of them all. Take that. Nag nag nag. It’s all three-dimensional, quadraphonic, holographic, realistic, heavy, confounding, and debilitating. Incessant, never-ending torture.