Arguing the same we disagree.
Singing together we compete.
We choose each other
to be one, and from the one
both soon diverge.
Heraclitus — “Fragments”
I have within deep strains of romanticism and naiveté. Several decades ago I enjoyed a myth on the subject of Love described within Plato’s Symposium. Simply put, the myth basically assumed that human individuals were once whole and powerful and in a position to challenge the status of the Gods. As such, Zeus used his bolts of lightning to sever each whole human being into halves. Love is therefore merely the search for your other perfect half in which upon finding it, you and the other being become whole and powerful. I like to think about Love through that myth. Perhaps I would add some variations to the idea of two becoming one for I do believe each individual in a perfect union should also enjoy the freedom to develop as individuals. But again, we are talking about an ideal union which may or may not exist in reality.
But, based on my own practical experience and employing my limited lens of observation, I have yet to experience or observe true and ever-lasting Love. I am not saying such a prize can’t be achieved, but I am questioning the existence there of. Heraclitus was obviously a sage who lived 2,500 years before Einstein. Most of his surviving fragments deal with nature and some argue that his thoughts were a prelude to Einstein’s theory on matter and energy. His above fragment may not have been referring to Love or individuals, rather it could in fact be referring to the properties of matter or a myriad of other ideas. But the fragment contains incredible content and could in fact be applying the concept of natural laws to that of two individuals and provides ample means to contemplate the idea of ever-lasting Love or a perfect and enduring union.
I believe that I have Loved more than once, but I also have experienced its ethereal characteristics. There seems to be a cycle that occurs. First, there is physical attraction which may come about merely through the eyes and loins, but this base attraction can be compounded exponentially by the contents of the other being. I would also argue that based on experience the reverse could occur, in which the individual became more attractive after learning about the contents of the individual. The second phase involves courting and exploration as to whether or not those initial impressions and attractions can endure or expand beyond the first phase. The first and second phases seem to come with an immense amount of excitement, energy, passion and romance. Clearly at this point the atoms are bouncing back and forth with great energy and excitement longing to transfuse into and with one another. These first two phases align with my idea of Love. You float among the clouds. The ocean and wind seem to be in tune with your inner being. In fact, the entire Universe starts to make sense or it is of no concern as beauty and purpose seems to exist within.
The third phase may include a proposal to marry or move in together or both. This phase reveals much about the strength of the bond formed in phases one and two as the two individuals now confront the daily grind of living. Perhaps both have long commutes to work, or long stressful hours, or money is tight, or old private habits or idiosyncrasies not discovered during the first two phases slowly reveal themselves and create some forms of friction. Perhaps one individual doesn’t meet the expectation of the other individual and conflict arises repetitively on the same subject resulting in no change. The examples here of course are endless. Let me simply say that in phase three two individuals are tested once exposed to the elements of life created by the couple and the external human environment which is forced upon or inherited by them.
Based on my experience and observations, the fractures or cracks that seem to occur during phase three often result in the Immaculate Conception — phase four or the birth of a child or children. A child or children is or are beautiful things, but they require an enormous expense of energy and resources. Indeed a child or children can increase the commitment between the two individuals which created the new being or beings, but there is no doubt that energy once spent on each other is now significantly diverted to the needs and wants of the new being or beings. The bond they enjoyed in phases one and two is now re-organized into a three-way bond including the child (or more depending on the number of children). One could even hypothesize that the two individual bonds are separated and then re-attach at the opposite ends of each other with the child or children attaching to both via the middle position. In some instances perhaps the two individuals remain attached and add additional attachments to the child or children. The later is clearly more desirable than the former and perhaps more rare.
Over time, which I refer to as the fifth stage, the relationship appears to evolve into more of a partnership, a friendship, a sort of co-existence. Phases one and two become merely a distant memory. Now the relationship is built upon a promise and bond made back during the third phase based primarily on the bond developed during the first two phases — in reality the first two phases no longer exist in the present. In essence, the atoms have split apart and orbit in the same general area but the initial strong bond has been clearly severed by the elements and the additions to the union. Now we have to contemplate whether ever-lasting love is defined as a partnership, a friendship, trust, a mutual co-existence, a matter of comfort and practicality, or whether the idea of ever-lasting Love is more of an ideal where phases one and two endure and remain intact throughout the duration of the union until death does them part.
As I stated at the beginning, I have deep strains of romanticism and naiveté. Therefore, my soul rebels against the idea or definition I have derived above for a practical ever-lasting love that evolves into a state of co-existence or partnership. Perhaps my experience and observations are wrong and people have experienced or observed true ever-lasting Love that defies my general outline above. If so, I would love to hear about the experience and or the observation. I am fully aware that my failures or my limited observations are merely a small sample that is not statistically significant. But let us put the above practical definition to the test to explore some potentially interesting ideas. Of course this topic could explode into an entire book, but that is not the proper place for this medium. These thoughts are rather raw and certainly a nice summary draft.
What should one do if he or she is bound by the above practical definition of ever-lasting love, but suddenly stumbles upon another being in which phase one begins to develop? And let us say, for argument’s sake, that the potential bond for phase two seems exponentially more exciting or promising than that which was experienced with the current partner at such a phase? In the natural world the answer is simple. The atoms would come together from the mutual attraction that is greater than the other atoms in the general vicinity — the chemistry is over-powering and becomes the rule of nature. But in the realm of the human being the only thing in the way is a promise made in the past that relates to something that existed in the past, but not in the present. Therefore, is it also logical that the human being should follow the same simple principle upon which the natural world operates?
There are billions of people in the world. Might there be a person out there that far exceeds the potential to achieve ever-lasting Love that might shatter the practical definition of ever-lasting love? And if such an opportunity presented itself, should one not take the steps necessary to explore that potential in spite of the promise to perpetuate the practical existence of ever-lasting love based on a past bond that no longer exists? Now of course I am making a significant assumption here. I am in essence saying the power of the first two phases is more meaningful and greater than that of phases four and five. In short, I am putting passion and romance on a higher plane than practical friendship and co-existence and the family unit. This certainly would make for a great debate, but as a romantic, I side with the former. I am not saying that I am right or that I could not be persuaded to the other side. But in my opinion, based on personal experience and observation, I put more value in the realm of Love in phases one and two. As such, I would advocate that the individual involved follow the rule of nature.
Of course, the human world employs mechanisms to prevent an individual from following such a natural principle. The promise in marriage is loaded with psychological, religious, and societal guilt should an individual chose to break the promise and contract in order to pursue the potential of a higher Love. The status quo supporting the concept of marriage and ever-lasting love also employs financial carrots and sticks, especially if children are involved. Married people (not of the same sex) receive tax breaks. Married people with children receive additional tax breaks. Certainly a family needs a house to fulfill the American Dream so the status quo grants yet another tax break for home ownership. If an individual decides to explore a new Love and break that original promise of ever-lasting practical love, then there will be a substantial cost to pay. Such a decision to pursue the potential of a higher Love is a direct threat to the whole underlying machinery of the economic dynamo which is the beating heart of the status quo.
Love is not the King; rather, the idea of marriage, children, the home, the car, and all the things that fill the home takes the crown. Stability and practicality rule over the ideal concept of Love. Therefore, if one partner were to find a greater half other than the current partner and chose the better half, the stick will be applied to the individual choosing Love over a partnership or the contract with the church and state. And I ask, for argument’s sake, if two individuals have the potential to explore whether or not ever-lasting Love might truly exist, and can find the means and the answer to keep phase one and phase two burning into the ever-lasting blink of their life-time or before their bodies shrivel up and dry out, then would it not be a crime to interfere or apply mechanisms to prevent such an event from occurring with total freedom? Is there a higher goal than finding true and ever-lasting Love, in any form?
Another concept to contemplate is more in-line with the thinking of Heraclitus. Perhaps there is no such thing as ever-lasting Love. Perhaps Love occurs for merely an instant or short period of time before natural forces break it apart. For all of nature is in constant flux and ever evolving into different shapes and forms. All one needs to do is observe the clouds over time to see this principle in action. Might it not be more realistic to treat Love as something beautiful but transitory in nature? Might there be some truth in the idea of never-lasting Love? Perhaps two individuals can only be in Love for a short period of time and once that cycle has run the course the two individuals must take leave in search of new Love? And that new Love may or may not be in the form of another human being. For is it not possible to fall in Love with something other than the human form? Maybe the prospect of a new Love signifies the time for departure? If this is indeed a more realistic approach to Love and Love is to be given its due place in the value spectrum, then perhaps the whole idea of marriage or ever-lasting love needs to be reconstructed and re-evaluated.
Personally, I like the idea of the myth presented in Plato’s Symposium and that each one of us has a perfect or close to perfect second half somewhere out there in the world, but I also have strong objective senses that Heraclitus makes a very powerful and strong case. Either way, both arguments certainly challenge the concept of marriage or ever-lasting love unless of course, we have truly found our other half. And the probability of achieving such a feat seems to reside in the hands of Fate. Might most of us simply be making a selection based on default? Just as we are eventually forced to choose a means to make money, might we also be forced to choose love out of what is available before us? Might there not be a better fit should Fate not bestow upon you one of the greatest gifts? I take off my hat and bow down before those that believe Fate has granted them with certainly one of the greatest gifts in the human realm — Ever-lasting Love.