“For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”–Carl Sagan
One of the most pondered parts of life is love. Each of us has yearned for it. Through the ages, poets have composed verses paying tribute to it. Countless songs and musical compositions have explored it. Shelf after shelf of literature salutes it. Theatrical drama expounds upon it. Many films and television shows center around it. Religion strives to define it. Political leaders try to regulate it. Psychology studies it. Philosophers contemplate it. Words are inadequate to properly describe it.
Aside from insanity and superstition, interpersonal love is one of the most irrational, illogical things on Earth. When it is absent, we feel a void and perhaps try to deny we need it. When it is present, we feel interconnected and joyful.
Love is unpredictable. It rarely begins, develops, and ends in the manner we believe or wish it should. Loving relationships can be both contentious and nurturing. True love reveals our most vulnerable selves. Love can be a one-sided crush, or a profoundly deep, caring, ever-growing, blending of two individuals.
We may idealize our first lovers, especially if the relationship was happy and nurturing. If the pairing is halted by separation and/or tragedy, the sense of loss is never completely overcome. The tragic end of my first committed boyfriend’s life is something I still meditate upon even though the traffic accident happened decades ago. People who have lost a family member due to fate or crime understand my loss and that my love for Takeo will never die.
We know that love continues in further incarnations. One may discover a new lover or spouse. The relationships can mature and exceed in loving-kindness over that of the first love, or perhaps not. Each relationship is as unique as our fingerprints. We may discover the infinite power of the Universe when we fall in love.
“You can search throughout the entire Universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”–Shakyamuni Buddha
Wisdom teachers throughout the ages have taught similar Dharma as the Buddha’s sermons on love. Yet we may forget that in order to authentically love another, one must authentically love oneself. To pair lovingly with another is not an act of completion; to love one another is to enhance each other.
Does absence make the heart grow fonder? I think the jury is still deliberating about this. Examples of lovers who have been separated by war or events out of their control exhibit various outcomes. Many couples reunite after war or other lengthy separation and live together happily ever after. Others come together again and are disillusioned then separate again. Still others never have a reunion because of many reasons. The interrupted love affairs society often admire are those that continue and mature after separation and reunion.
The pandemic is revealing the weaknesses and strengths of loving bonds as we endure social isolation, lock-downs, and quarantines. A great many partners find themselves in constant contact with each other. It has been speculated that this will result in many divorces and relationship dissolutions. In other cases, some partnerships will have grown more profound and deeper.
Those of us who are in self-quarantine apart from our significant others face relationship issues, too. Will we end up the way wartime couples have? Will we still be compatible or will we have grown apart? I fall into this particular camp.
Love is a complicated, subjective part of living. These meandering reflections about it only scratch the surface.