The Joyfully Tragic Life of the Romantic

Dead RoseAll people dwelling on earth can be roughly divided into two groups: the rationalists and the romantics. The rationalists are those people who are enthralled by math and confused by art. They live their lives waiting to die in the most efficient way possible. Rationalists are the people who bicker over fifty cent coupons at the grocery store. The general mood is one of subconscious cynicism.  When confronted with an opportunity, the first question a rationalist will ask is, “Is is this convenient?” This is not to say that all rationalists are negative-minded by nature, I’m sure that a rationalist would be overjoyed if they could solely live with others just like him.

Romantics are the people whose moods are greatly influenced by the weather. They live for a sunny day with a slow, refreshing breeze. Romantics love art and music and smiling children. The first question they ask when confronted by an opportunity is, “Could it be beautiful?” The fact is, they are the ones who know what it means to love. The general temperament of the romantic is the same as a child who has just discovered that it can jump.  The world unfolds in all of its beautiful splendor every morning, offering fresh ways to explore what life is all about, experiences.

Sadly, rationalists are the people who tend to be in positions of authority in society, so they can keep the world efficient and orderly. This makes things difficult for the romantic who simply wants a beautiful life. They must now have their lives shaped by the harsh, ugly rules of the rationalists. The rationalists are the ones who invented money and hourly jobs and city ordinances. The romantic is compelled to abide by these rules in order to not become an outcast, which would be entirely un-romantic.

There is something about the very existence of rules that works to crush the soul of the romantic. There is nothing he desires so much as freedom, and limitations upon freedom are antithetical to the his mindset. Not the romantic is a lazy, unruly anarchist. Rather, he doesn’t mind working at all, as long as it is fulfilling. It must be something honest and also must make the world a better place. What destroys the will of the romantic is unfulfilling pencil pushing. The rationalist will never understand this.

It is important to note that rationalists are not the only cause of misery in romantics’ lives. Indeed, the very natural limitations of man work to increase the suffering of the romantic. Every perfect day will eventually turn into night. Every perfect sunset will morph into darkness. Every life will end. It is physically impossible to both fly and swim at the same time. To put it plainly, the romantic has only a set time on this earth to experience all that he can, and he can only do one thing at a time.

Yet there is, as if to give the romantics the last word, an odd beauty of its own that is the result of these limitations. You see, romantics desire freedom, especially freedom to be different. Their limitations force them to be different. Due to variances in individual lives, it is impossible for someone to live exactly as anyone else in the history of the world. Thus, every experience of every life will be inherently different. Even if a certain event is shared by multiple people, the significance of it will be different for each of them, if only by the smallest degree.

This is precisely why the life of the romantic is “joyfully tragic”. Even with the full realization that no man can possibly do all that can be done in one short lifetime, each romantic knows that nothing can change the fact that each of them is unique. Not that romantics desire diversity for diversity’s sake, but they acknowledge that there is a definite, alluring joy in a life well-lived, and that no one has the ability to take that from them. Also, there is no one definition of a life well-lived, so it can mean any number of things, yet they are all beautiful. Therefore, the life of the romantic is joyful in the sense that he will have his experiences, and tragic in that he cannot have every experience.



Discussion — 2 Responses

  • Rachel Malone June 28, 2013 on 1:12 pm

    And…..what if I am enthralled by art and confused by math, and want to die in the most efficient way possible? If I am am a passionate lover of beauty and have a perpetual mood of subconscious cynicism? Maybe you need a third class of people: the “messed-up ones.” ;).

    Good thoughts though. Thanks for the reminder of the beauty of life. I whole-heartedly agree: that “tragedy” you point out is indeed supremely beautiful. And it compels us to seek out and treasure the unique beauty of our own personal circumstances.

  • Alexandra Brace June 30, 2013 on 8:15 am

    i would join that club. 😉