Welcome Message

This blog celebrates the beauty of Asian men by illustrating the depth and variety that is so often missed by those who make foolish statements like "All Asians look the same." It is primarily a photo blog, but I will also occasionally write comments related to Asian men and gay life as it relates to them.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Worth the Risk?

"To be brave is to love someone unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. To just give. That takes courage, because we don’t want to fall on our faces or leave ourselves open to hurt." ~Madonna, O Magazine (January 2004)

I read this quote a few days ago, and I am not certain if I was struck more by its profundity or by the fact that Madonna was the one who said it. How true it is that one of the bravest steps we take in life is when we open up our hearts to someone unreservedly, fully realizing that, if the person violates the trust we have put in him, our world will be crushed.

You can see this electric tension in the interactions of those newly in love. The love in their hearts is like a puppy straining at a leash, desperately hoping the owner will remove his collar and let him run free. The puppy is unaware of danger and unconcerned with consequences. And he knows that the moment he is released, he will burst free with barks of joy and elation. But the owner is older and wisened, understanding the risks of allowing a puppy to run free, desiring to protect the fragile innocence and unbounded trust of the beautiful creature. For new lovers, you can see the nervous giggles and instant smiles when they look at each other, their bodies nearly trembling with excitement when they are together, yet each wondering if they should "remove the collar" and let their emotion run free.

It is the all-too-often violation of that trust that has brought so much pain, bitterness, and sorrow into so many lives. Even the most romantic and optimistic of us can sometimes relate to the words of author Neil Gaiman, who wrote:

“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life...You give them a piece of you. They didn't ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like 'maybe we should be just friends' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.”
But no matter how deep the pain or harsh the betrayal, something within us still calls us back to the precipice, and we wonder what it is that compels us once again to jump. It's certainly not logic or rational thought. I think Annie Dillard said it eloquently:
"If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be too cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down."

Is love risky? Without question.
Is love worth the risk? Absolutely!

Then how do we navigate these waters? Interestingly, the safest approach is simply to cut the brake lines and go full speed ahead. It actually is when we try to protect ourselves from being fully vulnerable that we bring upon oursleves the greatest risk of failure and pain. For trust is essential for love to work between two people. Dr. Joyce Brothers shared priceless direction when writing, "Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.”

Love can seem like you are skating out onto thin ice. But tentative steps will not get you to the other side. Take the risk! Don't be hesitant; run out onto the ice and don't look back! As Emerson said, "In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed."