But the pain revives as soon as a new doubt enters our mind intact; even if we assure ourselves almost at once: "I shall deal with this, there'll be some way of avoiding suffering, it can't be true," nevertheless there has been a first moment in which we suffered as though we believed it. If we had merely limbs, such as legs and arms, life would be endurable. Unfortunately we carry inside us that little organ which we call the heart, which is subject to certain maladies in the course of which it is infinitely impressionable as regards everything that concerns the life of a certain person, so that a lie - that most harmless of things, in the midst of which we live so unconcernedly, whether the lie be told by ourselves or by others - coming from that person, causes that little heart, which we ought to be able to have surgically removed, intolerable spasms. Let us not speak of the brain, for our mind may go on reasoning interminably in the course of these spasms, but it does no more to mitigate them than by taking thought we can soothe an aching tooth. It is true that this person is blameworthy for having lied to us, for she had sworn to us that she would always tell us the truth. But we know from our own shortcomings towards other people how little such vows are worth. And we wanted to give credence to them when they came from her, the very person to whose interest it has always been to lie to us, and whom, moreover, we did not choose for her virtues. It is true that, later on, she would almost cease to have any need to lie to us - precisely when our heart will have grown indifferent to her lying - because when we shall no longer take an interest in her life. We know this, and, notwithstanding, we deliberately sacrifice our own life, either by killing ourselves for her sake, or by getting ourselves sentenced to death for having murdered her, or simply by spending our whole fortune on her in a few years and then being obliged to commit suicide because we have nothing left in the world. Moreover, however easy in one's mind one can imagine oneself to be when one loves, one always has love in one's heart in a state of precarious balance. The smallest thing is enough to place it in the position of happiness; one glows with it, one smothers with affection not her whom we love but those who have raised one in her esteem, who have protected her from every evil temptation; one feels easy in one's mind, and a single word is enough - "Gilberte is not coming," "Mademoiselle Vinteuil is expected" for all the preconceived happiness towards which we were reaching out to collapse, for the sun to hide its face, for the compass card to resolve and let loose the inner tempest, which one day we shall be incapable of resisting. On that day, the day on which the heart has become so fragile, friends who admire us will grieve that such trifles, that certain persons, can so affect us, can bring us to death's door. But what can they do? Is a poet is dying of septic pneumonia, can one imagine his friends explaining to the pneumococcus that the poet is a man of talent that it ought to let him recover?
Marcel Proust, The Captive, pp. 224-225
This is either one of Proust's most painfully honest passage or one of his most annoyingly self-pitying passages, depending upon your point of view. Proust proposes, " If we had merely limbs, such as legs and arms, life would be endurable. Unfortunately we carry inside us that little organ which we call the heart, which is subject to certain maladies in the course of which it is infinitely impressionable as regards everything that concerns the life of a certain person . . " Certainly, every one of us has at one time or another wished that we had been born without a heart, or, I guess more accurate, the ability to fall helplessly and hopelessly and painfully in love with another person. Of course, in the process you'd also eliminate one of the best reasons for being alive in the first place. We've all had our hearts broken, although few of us - or at least I suspect few of us - would echo Proust on this front: "We know this, and, notwithstanding, we deliberately sacrifice our own life, either by killing ourselves for her sake, or by getting ourselves sentenced to death for having murdered her, or simply by spending our whole fortune on her in a few years and then being obliged to commit suicide because we have nothing left in the world." So why do we do it, that is, why do we fall in love when it's almost certainly a losing game? The obvious answer is that we can not not do it, although that's hardly a satisfying answer. St. Augustine said that we are never satisfied until we find God. Obviously, that's a quest that normally doesn't end up going smoothly either. Maybe we're simply at our best, maybe our most human, when we're striving after love, whether it be on the macro or the micro level.