Absent of sense, absent of rationale and tempered emotion and timing and convenience and distance, is love.
It is a force. It is a tangible movement of energy that shifts you, that impacts you, regardless of willingness. Some fall into it, others desperately avoid it. Some seek it out in means of possessions, believing they can surround themselves with things they “love”; but such things are hollow, such things are abominations of love, of that force that moves you. For true love is shared, never something that only extends one way. True love is when two forces reach towards one another regardless of the difficulties that lie between. True love is not possession, not control, but the absence of both. It is trust. It is commitment.
It is terrifying.
Today I attend a wedding for two dear friends who are in love, and it got me thinking about it, about what this thing is that has personally caused me so much pain in the present, but also so much joy in the past. It is something I sometimes feel powerless to. It is something I sometimes fear. But it is something remarkable—magical, even. It is something that warms you in the cold. Something that embraces you when alone, comforts you when afraid. It is a force. As I’ve said: an energy.
I think back to “Fiddler on the Roof,” to Tevye and Golde and their initial hesitancy to admit love to one another after twenty-five years of marriage, to admit this thing that’s kept them together through years of hardship, is anything other than the necessary means of survival.
But of course.
Of course it is love. Both acknowledge it, embrace it, allow it to warm them. But both fear it initially.
(Tevye) “Do you love me?”
(Golde) “Do I what?”
(Tevye) “Do you love me?”
(Golde) “Do I love you?
For twenty-five years I’ve washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked the cow.
After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?”
Initially, these tangible things matter more—initially they serve as proof of love: a thing that in and of itself seems wholly unnecessary to Golde. But after asking the question again, Golde reconsiders, and we see that it is not these things that prove Golde loves Tevye, but rather the love Golde has for him that made all of it necessary, that made it possible, even.
(Golde) “Do I love him?
For twenty-five years I’ve lived with him
Fought him, starved with him
Twenty-five years my bed is his
If that’s not love, what is?”
(Tevye) “Then you love me?”
(Golde) “I suppose I do.”
(Tevye) “And I suppose I love you too.”
(Both) “It doesn’t change a thing! But even so
After twenty-five years
It’s nice to know.”
“Fiddler on the Roof.” 2016.
Am I the only one here tearing up? Oh—go and listen to it! Words like these were meant to be heard, never read. Well—and maybe there’s a point to that. Maybe that is the point:
Words like these were meant to be heard.
And have you heard them lately? Felt them lately? Well, if not, you are—by someone, you are.
And you must never forget this.