Once a long time ago I meditated on the instances of happy and painful relationships, either between lovers or between spouses. In my country divorce is not possible. The main reason is that it’s predominantly Roman Catholic, about 98% of the population. The other reason is the way we look at marriage as a permanent thing. Of course separation of spouses happen, as well as infidelity. But since the norm is marriage then even co-habitation is frowned upon. For many families it can incur ostracization of the young lovers. Parents who have cohabited for a long time do not generally make the set-up known, knowing that it will earn some stigma and will affect the children. If they have caring friends these will encourage them to officiate their union even if it’s only a civil rite. Also, civil rites are not as respectable as a church or a sacerdotal sanctioned ritual.
As part of our public education we would discuss marriage and domestic issues in school. One question that came up was if we are in favor of divorce being legalized. That question was taken by us seriously, us not having been raised in an environment where divorce is an open option. The sound of the word “divorce” is equivalent to that of “disaster”, “failure”, “destruction”, “insecurity”, “shame”, “secret”, “lies”, and even “outcast”. The challenge of even saying anything for it, for just the tiniest bit, was daunting.
I did not care much about the question until one lazy summer afternoon as I was spending my usual dreamy lounging time in my parents’ bedroom, where there’s always wonderful lighting streaming inside from two adjacent walls, I came to suddenly put my thinking into considering under what circumstances would I be found to agree on legalizing divorce. I zeroed in on my only answer: violence. I concluded then that a person cannot be made to stay in a set-up where he or she (in our context it’s she predominantly) is constantly in fear of being hurt. But I also thought about what if one of the spouses falls in love with somebody else. Ah, this was difficult stuff to answer as I haven’t been there myself. I had to consider this angle because it seems to be a popular reason why partners split.
Is it possible for a committed person to fall in love with another not her/his partner? If I were married and it happened to me what would I do? This part I had also answered for myself, which in turn made me conclude that choosing the mate isn’t a joke nor a thing to be taken lightly. It definitely cannot be based on hormones alone, although at that time I, too, knew little about this side of things. But, hey, rhetorics is free for everyone, even for budding snotty-nosed university graduates.
1 Corinthians 13 (click to enlarge)
Of course it’s possible to fall in love with anyone anytime. What kind of question is this in the first place? Is it even a valid question at all? Are emotions and attraction things that can be channeled the way arguments can be tiered one after the other? Is there even a fool-proof theory about loving? I mean, if God is Love, then how does one deal with this phenomenon? All peoples have their own ways of talking about this phenomenon, and does one group of people or language or worldview define the entire humanity, then and now?
For a “love” between two persons who can’t take it to the socially accepted commitment status, like for instance in my country having it labeled as bigamy, which is illegal, then how could this “love” be handled? “If I were married and it happened to me what would I do?” I guess I have to decide and move on. But since I haven’t been married and so have not been initiated into this level of existence, I will not presume that I know anything about it. Therefore, I can’t openly say here anything by way of response to it. Theoretical musings is fine but I would rather show respect to the real circumstance experienced by real people who can’t even start to find words to deal with it, not even in their own private thoughts.
But what if a married man makes me feel loved and I found it honest and genuine and non-restricting, what do I do?
Certainly not go out on a date with him. Certainly not encourage the flirtation. Cetainly not fan my vanity into a blazing ember. Am I nuts? The guy is married. He has committed himself to something that excludes anything else at par with it. As one of my favorite shows would say, “Wake up and smell the coffee.”
But what if I, too, have started to love him? Ah, then that’s another story. To smell the coffee I think I would first and foremost honor his honesty and courage in making me aware of his care for me. I mean, who am I to reject such a wonderful gift? It’s “love” after all, it’s something unfathomable. It’s from God. It’s God’s language.
Then I would refrain from asking too many questions. I won’t even ask questions at all. I would nip all questions in the bud. Here Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle applies: defining an electron’s state alters its state. I will refrain from putting my finger on anything in order to pin it down, they be descriptions, qualifications, quantifications of this “love”. Any attempt to pin it down, in this context, will result into a failure. Defining it will destroy it. Getting hold of it will cause its demise. I would leave things as they are, without defining them — be they concepts, words, situations. They will not be turned this way and that for closer examination. They will be left as a blur and will not be designated into compartments or categories. Their rawness will be respected. That way they will not be suffocated, robbed of air, and fester for the lack of it.
As this “love” is there, then what could be done with it? Why, celebrate it, of course. It is not “forbidden”, for goodness’ sake. Love is free, is encouraged, is induced, is given, is spread out, is scattered. The world has been constantly suffering because love has been twisted and restricted and deformed and castigated. But since, in the context I’m talking about here, it’s in an instance where care has to be exercised on its behalf, then I would suggest to take this “love” into another plane of existence. It cannot be insisted on the same plane where it will foster suffering, because that’s not its purpose. Love is something that affirms our humanity, it is a life-giving phenomenon, and hence it does not belong to the arena of suffering. Don’t ask me more about how I speak of it here because, my dear, words are not adequate to speak of this phenomenon in this angle.
So maybe I’d say I’d let this love dwell with the clouds, let it float on the calmest of ocean surfaces, let it flit with the wind among the many branches of as many trees that greet me on my way to wherever everyday, let the leaves’ rustle talk of it to me. Let my echoed footsteps be chants of meditation on it. Silent. Abiding. Subdued. Sometimes even forgotten for a while but certainly there, accompanying me, holding on to the tips of my hair as the breeze blows imperceptible strands here and there, sometimes.
So I won’t conjure physical manifestations of it. “Fantasies” and “possibilities” are words not even entertained. I will not “insist” it; will not “force” it into “fruition”; will not “fight” for it — these avenues does not belong to “love”. Read 1 Corinthians 13. This is the only way I can show respect to my emotions, by not straining it with emptiness, not feeding it with conjectures the probabilities of which approach zero. This, too, is the way I could love my self in this context, and so lift my self up from the plane of senselessness.
It was a poem by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) that prompted me on this reflection. Here it is:
I cannot live with you,
It would be life,
And life is over there
Behind the shelf
The sexton keeps the key to,
Our life, his porcelain,
Like a cup
Discarded of the housewife,
Quaint or broken;
A newer Sevres pleases,
Old ones crack.
I could not die with you,
For one must wait
To shut the other’s gaze down,
You could not.
And I, could I stand by
And see you freeze,
Without my right of frost,
Nor could I rise with you,
Because your face
Would put out Jesus’,
That new grace
Glow plain and foreign
On my homesick eye,
Except that you, than he
Shone closer by.
They’d judge us-how?
For you served Heaven, you know,
Or sought to;
I could not,
Because you saturated sight,
And I had no more eyes
For sordid excellence
And were you lost, I would be,
Though my name
On the heavenly fame.
And were you saved,
And I condemned to be
Where you were not,
That self were hell to me.
So we must keep apart,
You there, I here,
With just the door ajar
That oceans are,
And that pale sustenance,
There’s an explanation of it here:
I also wanted to explore what I could say in resonance to it, from a different context.
So, I’d say, “I love you, and I must pick my self up from here and carry on, as well as I can possibly do. This is the only way I can show God, and you, how much I honor and value Him, and you.”
I hope that the way I spoke of it isn’t as sad-sounding as Dickinson’s expression here, of her love. Here’s another of her poems, an encouraging sounding one that I copied from http://www.shortpoems.org/emily_dickinson/
Have the best of days, everyone! 🙂
🙂 I have your book today, in paper. I don’t know when I can finish it considering that I’m not supposed to do anything else besides looking for certain things in books for a year at least, but actually I’m now on John’s first baptism. I’m liking John and I can easily connect him with that John in the desert, both with passions of that intensity. But how I wish I knew more of European economy/history so that I could get more laughs out of your quirky statements — I mean, I had my first big laugh at page (though unnumbered) 3 of Introduction and I anticipate that there are lots like it in this your thickish book. Though I think I just go open some more of your book for reasons other than greed for knowledge, otherwise things will just not get right with me. One has to be ready for the things that you say in here 🙂 . What made me confident enough to get a copy was that a few days ago I finally had a gut feeling of what evil is. The subject of evil isn’t an attractive material for me and so I haven’t read up on the academic discussions on it, nor am I interested in the macabre in popular media. But recently, in a flash, I realized that I understood that evil is the attempt to choke/snuff out/strangle life, to negate life. Something happened to me and I felt like I was going to be annihilated, something is trying to deny my essence, and if I let it be I would end up a living dead, a nothing — and so it dawned on me that this, then, is what evil is. I decided to find a way to stay alive despite the presence of this thing that would callously wipe me off from existence if I let it. So I thought that a retelling of Jesus’ story like the way you’re doing is worth looking into, with the horrors of modern metropolitan living, and they shouldn’t disturb me as much anymore due to my newly found knowledge (haha looks like this leads me further into my “knowledge-of-good-and-evil” musings…). I’m wary like this because I’m not familiar with big city living, and the little that I’ve experienced of it I didn’t really like… but I do like the way you explain the will to power … I agree with what you say in there … and I can’t help wanting to catch your words at each right-hand page because they look like they might fall off any time — this was the first big laugh, actually 🙂 THANK YOU for your great effort in this book. May many people come to read it.