waiting for the bus.
There is a virtue in waiting.
That is what my mentor would always tell me. He is very fond of time and its different dimensions in relation to love. Here is one of my favorite articles he wrote a year after the original article was written.
For those who were brave, are brave, and continues to be brave. Prost!
Love and Time II: Of Love’s Winter Solstice by Patrick Nogoy SJ. (2011)
Mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.
Como para acercarla mi mirada la busca.
Mi corazón la busca, y ella no está conmigo.
La misma noche que hace blanquear los mismos arboles.
Nosotros, los de entonces, ya no somos los mismos.
Ya no la quiero, es cierto pero cuánto la quise.
Mi voz buscaba el viento para tocar su oído.
De otro. Será de otro. Como antes de mis besos. Su voz, su cuerpo claro. Sus ojos infinitos.
Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero tal vez la quiero. Es tan corto al amor, y es tan largo el olvido.
Porque en noches como ésta la tuve entre mis brazos, mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.
Aunque ésta sea el último dolor que ella me causa, y éstos sean los últimos versos que yo le escribo.
[“My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.
The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another’s. She will be another’s. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms,
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.” ]
Whenever a relationship reaches its breaking point and eventual demise, the feared reality of pain burdens the lover and beloved. This pain rises up from the choice to separate—breaking the promise of togetherness bound by forever; a vow that, at present, can never be sustained. What follows is one of the darker experiences of love: a solitary winter that does not reveal an immediate end. Warm nights suddenly turn cold. Morning sunshine surprisingly reflects shadows of gray. Passion becomes pain. Desire rises up as anger. Hope is overshadowed by fear. Often, the question is asked: For how long?
How long a winter lasts may be different for each person. For some, it is as quick as a click. For others, it takes weeks. For a few, it eats up years. However, time’s length does not define the lover’s overcoming of winter. In love, time sheds into an entirely deeper shade of meaning. Reality hits that love is its own time.
Overcoming (of which time is an immediate indicator) is best told in depth. Indeed the question of time transforms itself into a deeper question of being. To be able to move on presents itself as a problematic greater than chronological time. Time may be the lover’s witness, the horizon where the lover’s becoming happens. The more relevant question reveals itself—how does a lover overcome the time of winter?
The Approaching Twilight
Once the reality of separation settles in, things become a blur.
The lover experiences a blur of contradictions: tears that bear happiness and sorrow, weight and lightness of freedom, bittersweet places and events, a self that is finally free yet rejects the very same freedom, and likewise a certain and rational choice that brings about irrational and unbearable pain. I no longer love her yet how I loved her!
The same time that embraces the lover and the beloved presents a different ordeal: We, of that time, are no longer the same. My heart looks for her and she is not with me. The lover is caught up in a transition, a kind of dispersion of self—a scattering. Yet if one looks at it, isn’t this not a scatter since the lover was able to regain what was lost and that is his whole self? Isn’t this more of an acceptable situation since this is the very treasure that the separation awarded to both and that is their own freedom? Why is it that the lover is caught in a quandary—still searching for the beloved when the mutual decision is to break up?
The lover experiences scatter because of the shattering of the greater whole, a perfection that he can no longer live without. Whatever the narrative of this greater whole is, the reality of being separated from it commands bittersweet pain. Separation does not accompany within it a sudden erasure of emotions. When one has given his whole self to the other, when separated, undergoes a scatter. The dispersion of self happens precisely because of the broken bond that united him to the beloved. The depth of such bond is beyond calculation and even reason. The love that exists which made the bond possible erects itself as reason. Thus, the lover going through a winter of separation can never be consoled even by rational explanations. His longing can only be filled by a beloved who is no more. No reason can satisfy a lover’s longing.
A lover’s longing lingers. The lingering adds weight for the lover to carry. The lover bears the weight of his longing, a longing he could not stop, and a longing that pushes him to hold on to the present that should be a past. The lover’s present is still the beloved’s presence. Yet she will be another’s. As she was before my kisses. Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes. The lover still clings to that which is no longer there: the presence of an absence, the absence of the perfect togetherness. Such presence heightens the cold of winter. We, of that time, are no longer the same.
For how long? The question is a cry of anguish of an unwanted exodus unto an uncertain desert. If moving on is only as easy as changing one’s online relationship status, only as quick as deleting online social network profiles, only as instant as turning switches, then perhaps more people will not shy away in giving themselves to others. If pain can only evaporate as swiftly as sweat or rain. Alas, love is its own time; pain seems to indeterminately remain. Time sheds another skin: duration. Duration, as Bergson notes, is different from measured time. Duration resembles more the inner rhythm of things—our being, taking being as a verb as in the manner of exist-ing. We can never escape duration since it is part of who we are. We cannot also lengthen or shorten it however it pleases us unlike the hands of a watch. Lived experiences, though we usually measure by time, impinges on our duration. The summers of love are measured by the intensities of our be-ing, of our exist-ing as we go through (experience) them with our beloveds and in experiencing them, our beings are taken out (ecstasis). The same wind hollers in the winters of love. This time, pain and suffering take us out, shake our whole being, making us scream and restless. Describing experiences of pain and fear, Bergson notes our penchant for escape: “Fear, when strong,” says Herbert Spencer “expresses itself in cries, in efforts to escape, in palpitations, in tremblings.” Further, “Darwin has drawn a striking picture of the reactions following a pain which becomes more and more acute. ‘Great pain urges all animals … to make the most violent and diversified efforts to escape from the cause of suffering…’” In the bosom of Time, the lover faces not only his existence but more importantly, gropes with his existing (duration). The weight of such experience is opposite to the lightness of being experience in the summer of love. If the summers reward the lover ecstatic joy in togetherness, winters punish the lover with almost unbearable ball and chains of pain. Found in the clearing of time is the lover, none other. Standing in time, as Heidegger remarks: it is actually us that pass away when we say time passes away.
Groping in the Dark
Forgive and forget. This is the often given and accepted advice for the lover who suffers separation. Yet can the lover ever forget? Can he actually erase the beloved from his memory, be rebooted anew? Can he overcome the past by annihilating it? Forgetting is made even tougher by the memories that torment in every place or event the lover shared with the beloved. The lover asks: If forgetting is the reaction, then how is it possible to forget a beloved?
Forget comes from the Old English forgytan which means passing by or letting go. In a deeper sense, to forget means to let go, to let things pass by without holding on to them. For people who decided to call it quits, letting go is the most arduous of all tasks. Since the lover experiences scatter given the shattering of the bond, he cannot help but to put things together (reconciliar, reconcile) in order to prevent his dispersion. The gift of perfection found in togetherness is the refuge of the scattered lover. However such perfection ceases to exist because of separation. It is no more. The lover must let it go. He must forget.
Forgetting as letting go takes time. In trying to let go, the lover overcomes his burdensome clutch to a past that halts his acknowledgment of the future. The past can really be tempting; the present filled with the beloved’s absence is tormenting. The nights where the lover holds the beloved in his arms are presently the nights filled with loneliness and confusion. If efforts have been exhausted and still the lover and the beloved cannot put things back together again, then it is time to let go. Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
Letting go does not mean rebooting a memory or erasing events in one’s life. Though one wishes so, the reality is that the beloved leaves a space in the lover’s life. Henri Bergson writes in Time and Free Will, when it is said that an object occupies a large space in the soul or even that it fills entirely, we ought to understand by this simply that its image has altered the shade of a thousand perceptions or memories…it pervades them. The beloved has pervaded the lover; she has altered him in many ways. The unwanted accidenthas caused change in one’s being. Change is irreversible and unforgettable. Letting go, then, cannot reverse or delete the past but aids the lover in letting things pass by. To un-grasp the past means to be free to embrace possibilities. Only in this poverty of letting go will the lover be enriched with possibilities.
The lover chooses to let the memory of the greater whole, a once perfect present, be washed away as he wanders. When he looks over time, the lover realizes that he is not the same anymore. The gift of a new self has emerged yet it would remain irrelevant and unnecessary (as all other gifts are) as long as the lover is fixated with the past, as long as he fails to let go. My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her. Indeed, forgetting can be so long.
The Crack of Dawn
Forgetting happens if there is forgiving. Forgive means to completely give. The lover is asked to give himself completely to the pain of loss, the acceptance of the decision to separate, a broken whole, a shattered perfection. Though the broken past can compel him to clam up, the lover must not lose sight of giving himself completely to the reality that he is still alive, though hurting, that he did not actually lose everything of himself despite the destruction of togetherness that already nurtured his becoming. He must awaken to the awaiting arms of the future. The idea of future (Bergson) that exists in the present can only be nurtured when the lover completely gives.
The weight of a broken vow exhausts the lover. His whole self is spent; his reason for being crushed. This reality is more than enough to distrust a promising future for the lover still desires the fleeing past. I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her. Self spent, the lover turns to love—instances of love coming from friends and families, a love given by others. Though the burden is identical to him—a boulder only he can carry—by sharing it to others, he remains open to receive. Articulating his narrative allows him to remain connected to the world, the source of his pain and renewed strength. The first instance of forgiveness is found in the lover’s cry for help. In spite of the piercing pain, the lover chooses to remain open. He chooses to forgive by embracing the world again. Embracing the world enriches the lover through its gift of possibilities. The receipt of the future filled with possibilities assists the lover in letting go.
To completely give results in a disposition of non-possession. Giving enables the lover to be open, allowing things to pass by, posturing the lover to let go. Letting things pass by (resentment, anger, frustration, unwanted jealousy, fear) facilitates the passing of the past to the idea of the future, a future pregnant with possibilities even if it will not lead to the realization of a particular idea of possibility (Bergson). The lover unburdens himself of the weight of separation and worry of time by giving himself completely in order to let go. The lover continues to love by going through pain and letting his beloved go. Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer and these the last verses that I write for her.”
Henri Bergson emphasizes on the idea of duration in his essay, Time and Free Will. He writes that “there exist two different selves; one is the external projection of the other. Our fundamental self is not open to measure; a free self that becomes in duration and not in mathematical or measurable time, which our external projections belong.” In this age of accelerated pace due to technological advances, our mentalities have shifted and are often confused especially with time. Often, we are pressed given the number of appointments and errands we have to make. Productivity and efficiency have become thearche of living. The culture of speed has permeated our lives deeply, creating an illusion that life and its challenges like love can easily be solved using practical solutions governed by time. Bergson cautions that “we live for the external world rather than for ourselves; we speak rather than think; we ‘are acted’ rather than act ourselves.” Accelerating lived experiences muddles the exist-ing and existence of things. It has been the greatest theft of wisdom in these times, favoring productivity and efficiency. We live instead for time not realizing that time is the twin of our being. It is we who pass away when we say time passes away.
Yet we discover that life is bigger than mechanical or scientific time, that love is its own time. Summers can be lasting or can be mere rendezvous. The same is true for winters. Romance can be short, pain can be long. In the matters of love, what enables the lover to overcome time is his endurance. To endure means to harden, to be solid. In the tormenting scatter brought about by the shattering of togetherness, the lover is left poor. His self, given wholly to the other, has been spent. What he is trying to protect and cherish is already broken. A sudden drifter, the lover hopes for light in the dark and terrible night. He needs to endure.
Shafts of light can only penetrate once the lover learns to forget. Forgetting is to let go—to let things pass by without holding on to them. Forgetting asks the lover to be completely poor for only in his poverty will he be gifted. Forgetting demands forgiving from the lover: to completely give instead of locking up. Forgetting enables the lover to appreciate the gift of wisdom coming from a failed relationship with a beloved. Forgetting liberates the lover from a painful past, giving him freedom to gather himself again. As Bergson notes, “to act freely is to recover possession of oneself and to get back in duration.” In gathering himself again, the lover endures.
His endurance will permit him to make the greatest act of love that will bring true closure to a failed relationship. This courageous act can only come after letting go, after a painful forgetting. These last verses of a promising togetherness that brought joys and sorrows, changes and surprises, summers and winters, are concluded in the pen-stroke ofletting be. With all his strength despite the nagging pain and wounds, the lover kisses the beloved goodbye. Such hurtful goodbye is the only way back to the beginning of every love story: freedom. The lover in his last great act of love sets his beloved free, and in doing so, sets himself free.
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