I feel like I’m constantly surrounding by the idea that if love is real, it will last forever.
But “if nothing lasts forever, what makes love the exception?” Hey Ya?
Love is so diverse, so over-arching, so essential, and sometimes just very sad. It’s a huge topic. Although I will not share my personal stories here, I do hope that these words will help you on your own journey to finding out what love means for you, as it’s probably the most important and the more difficult thing that we will ever do.
What I have come to believe is that although the object of love may not last, the influence of that love will. The physical person or thing only act as a portal to shine light on a new vision and reality of how things could be, and we are then responsible for what we build from that vision.
Here are two analogies that illustrate what I’m trying to say.
Imagine that a good friend gives you a wooden boat that she made herself. Over the years, the painted planks start to chip and rot. You start doing some repair work on the boat, changing the old pieces with new ones. Eventually, perhaps a decade later, one repair at a time, every plank, every screw, every piece of the original boat has been replaced by something new. When someone asks you about who’s boat it is, you still answer that it’s the boat that your friend gave you, the one she made herself.
Imagine again that a person with exceptionally nice hair approaches you, and all you think about is how you really want to feel their hair. Now, imagine what your reaction would be if the same person approached you and handed you a strand of their hair, cut off and no longer attached to their head.
For me, these analogies illustrate that we understand things through structures and relationships more so than through the purely physical, isolated components. How might this affect how we understand love?
One definition of love is the desire to see something live and strive, to want and to support their existence and growth. In this view, I can see how the cherished and loved aspects in me have grown in response to people’s love, even when they were absent. As a by-product of their love, I have become more resilient and more willing to appreciate myself. I have found more strength and reason to live.
When someone sees good things in me, it gives me permission to claim those qualities as my own, as they already are. For example, I viewed myself as inconsistent and easily distracted before I got to know someone who loved my constant questionings and fascination with life. They saw value in something that I disliked about myself, and their love allowed me to stop fighting and fleeing that part of me. Their love became a mirror and portal through which I came to understand and eventually accept myself. Their love allowed me to look at the shamed parts of me with more ease. And as Rilke says, their love provided a rare occasion for me to be seen and to truly be with myself.
I think the main question I have for myself now in regards to love is how to carry and preserve the love that I’ve been shown. It’s so typically for people to say that they wasted time on a relationship that ended. In response to that, we would do well to take more responsibility for our own experiences and also how we let those experiences influence us.
So, back to the beginning: does love last?
As with all truths, this one is a paradox too. Love is alive in the same way that life is alive, and things that live change and develop. Things change and love changes. It doesn’t mean that it’s not real or that it wasn’t real. Its end does not equate to its insincerity or some other hurtful thing. In any case, we do have a significant amount of power to decide what we remember, and thus how we let our past shape our present and future.
Thanks for reading.