"Carmen" by Georges Bizet is my favorite opera. I have lost count of how many times I have seen it. The movie adaptation by Carlos Saura is the version I like the most -- with its flamenco dancing, stunning mise-en-scène and the fact that it features the epitome of a Spanish maestro in the form of the legendary and recently-deceased guitarist Paco de Lucia. However, my fascination with the eponymous heroine and the opera itself started when I first saw it on stage at the grandiloquent "Teatro Real de Madrid." Magic happened the moment the lead soprano sang "La Habanera." That song taught me the first lesson in the game of love: Never chase or beg for it.
"Love is a rebellious bird that nobody can tame and you can call him quite in vain if it suits him not to come, nothing helps, neither threat nor prayer."
Ever since then, I have empathized with the main character's qualities and flaws to the point that I feel as though she is a part of me. I love the fact that she is the embodiment of a Spanish beauty with her seductive brunette looks and a spirited attitude when it comes to men. You may or may not identify with her, but I believe there is a "Carmen" lurking inside most of us and getting her out from time to time is particularly important in relationships, where we tend to see things with rose-colored glasses and ignore the red lights telling us to stop and change direction. When in doubt, I always ask myself what Carmen would do. The answer may not be the one that I want to hear, but it will be an answer that requires the courage and dignity to make the right decision. Carmen is the ultimate personification of an uncompromising, self-assured, fearless woman and when she makes a decision, you know there is no hesitation involved. She is not, as we would say in Spanish, "Carmencita" (little Carmen) -- someone who feels oppressed and settles for everything but common sense. Carmen represents passion, confidence, courage and a fiery spirit. What is not to like? Here we can leave aside the stage version of Carmen and focus on a real-life one; one who is vivacious, honest and loyal.
Relationships that exist on the surface of niceness where expressing your own vulnerable self could annoy your partner, are destructive in the long run and will lead to repression. So, love with style or don't love at all. If fiery Carmen needs to come out to make a point, unleash her. If your partner would rather have a geisha than a Carmen, then he is definitely not suited to the intensity required for any passionate relationship. To love, you need passion. Together with respect, it is the essence of long-lasting love. If a relationship can't handle the mere expression of your feelings, then you are too much of a Carmen and Carmen doesn't do cowards. She is assertive and would rather be herself at the risk of being alone forever, than settle for a stifling relationship that would oppress her and turn her into a lifeless version of her former self.
The other thing that struck me about the character of Carmen was that while she gave Don José the purest form of love, she was also able to erase any feelings inside her the moment she was disappointed with deceit, lies or disrespect. Gone! Banished! Erased from dear memory! This may sound slightly melodramatic, but if you release the Carmen within you, you will feel empowered rather than fall to pieces when things don't work out. Instead of being the martyr, you will be the hero.
Relationships should be akin to the one that a bee has to a flower. A bee has the ability to extract the sweetness of a flower without harming her and transform it into honey. The Carmen inside you wants that bee/flower relationship and will guide you wisely when it comes to steering clear of the bee that will sting you instead of giving you honey. Through emulating Carmen, you will know how to avoid that kind of bee and release the essence to attract the right one. Then, and only then, can something more substantial be made.
Watch the video above. Let it inspire you to be mentally strong and reclaim your power.
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