Is there such a thing as a love a little too late? When to be late means being unable to make it on time, failing to get there at the right time, or the inability to arrive when you were expected to or when you should? Does time hold love captive and does it ultimately judge and decide its fate--beyond the best of my intentions, in spite of the truth of my love? Or is it not the other way around that it is love that judges time because it is always able to make time? In a word, can a true love be late or does it always make it on time?
Let us see.
(A continuation in response to a reader)
For the meantime, let's reflect upon these:
"Late have I loved Thee, beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved Thee." --Augustine
"Things that really matter, though they may come very late, always come at the right time." --Heidegger
"I can never say anything to the other except my shortcomings and belatedness." --Marion
But I, for one, have long thought that it's the time which determines which loves are possible, and which could be realized, and not the love itself. It's a bit of a statement, to be sure, and a hasty generalization, but consider this possibility: If for example, the "right one" comes along and enters my horizon, and I, unfortunately or not, am not receptive to any old one, or I am not, let's say, "ready" because of one reason or another (just coming from a heartbreak, career plans, "other priorities"--as if love were one priority alongside of others), then the "right one," my supposed "true love," will not be able to present himself to me as such. I will pass over him, disregard him, or at best be indifferent to him: because I am not yet "interested" and ready to make an "investment," or to be simple about it--I will not see him because I was at that time not looking for him. To find something presupposes looking for it; there may be no such thing as an accidental stumbling upon something which you are really not looking for. Absurdly, a surprise is only surprising if you were expecting it already. (Now that sounds wrong, I know, forgive me. But let's just play along and go with the logic).
Or consider the contrary: If I wish to find love, or if I want to love, it is rather "easier" for me to find a lover, and even amazingly find my "true love." We purposely meet new people, we date, we "go out there," survey the playing field, make ourselves "available"--and all these mark the prejudice of someone who wishes to love, or wills love, before it arrives. If I am open, of if I am already expecting what I myself declare shall arrive, then certainly any old other who I chance upon becomes a strong candidate of earning my love. In this instance, I, through my own volition and by my own decision, prefigure he whom I will love: the initiative comes from me, I set the stage for his arrival, and all I have to do is choose among the actors who enter it.
Again, this is crude, I admit. But isn't this what happens when we decide that "I am ready," or "I want to settle down." We hear of those who in approaching the "marrying age" (whatever that means) put themselves out there, sometimes in a rush, in order to find "the one." Here, we have a clear case of time preconditioning the person or the lover. Because I want to be in love now, and wish to "settle down" already, I may choose that this person, who I may not have noticed or be attracted to before, be the one for me. The word "settle" in settling down is double-edged: positively it entails rest and the cessation of a long-drawn search and tiresome going-about, negatively, however, it means compromising, or accepting what one would not otherwise have agreed to receiving because it is less than what you wanted or deserved, or, in a word, again cruelly, bargaining, like "settling for a price." And the times always dictate the price or the value of things, and never things themselves.
But of course, we are often kind to ourselves by saying that it's really him, the one that I've been waiting for, my one true love. There is also some sense in that.
So, can true love be late?
To answer, Yes, I would have to say that on the one hand, love can come too late. We hear of those tragic experiences not only from fiction but from everyday life itself. The fault comes in always deciding too quickly: We think that the true one will arrive no more, or the one we love is already the one, or at times we become impatient for the right one or the right time to come. And so we dictate that this one which I love right now become the true one for no other reason than because it is time, or it's about time, or there's no more time. Only to find out, again tragically, that the one which was "meant" for you was still to come. But again, it is easy to dismiss such postponed truths. We say we had no way of knowing, that there was no other choice, or it just wasn't in the cards. These are excuses, though necessary ones.
On the other hand, true love is never late. For to even know in one's heart that he is the one, though he be late, already presupposes a kind of knowledge which trumps the wisdom of time. Circumstances, and the events and decisions they cause or make possible, are the weakest causes, or evidence, of what could be called truth. The certainty of the lover who finds the right, the true one, however, is unshakable: Nothing, no prior decision, no circumstance or responsibility or contract can ever upset the truthfulness of a love which you know in your soul is to be yours and yours alone.
To be frank about it, there will always be time; it's never too late. One can always leave everything behind, break one's vows and promises, in order to depart all that you have committed to for the Beautiful One. All mistakes can be made up for, even if that means making another mistake; it's a matter of living up to and standing by your decisions, at the risk of being again mistaken. What does it matter that you ruin a life, even your own, for your quest of and obligation to your own happiness? You are only human, and you must allow yourself human joys at the expense of failing to live up to the teachings of a god. You must always allow yourself to make mistakes, and enough time to make up for them, in the same way that you must always allow yourself to be happy. We hear of those good, wise and virtuous men who live up to the moralities of society and religion, who never strayed away from living the upright life, the safe and peaceful life; those who wake up every morning with a clear plan for the day ahead, those who eat healthy and take care of their bodies, those who stay away from vices and moralize those who have it, those who live as the Joneses do, who have lives as clean as their consciences. But make no mistake about it, if you are to look for a man in despair, you'd do no better than find one among them. Sadness, like sickness, come from still waters. Nietzsche exhorts us to venture out into terrible seas, to become wayfarers again. A tragic hero is still a hero.
We are already at a time beyond good and evil. And "what is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil" (Nietzsche). Time is evil, but there is a way to counter time's dictatorship. Disrespect it by transgressing all of its markers, deadlines, and measures.
Be your own time. Your own decisions can mark and wound time itself.
Or what I was trying to say before I became lyrical was this: A love is never too late. A love too late can only be so because you were not brave enough to accept it and love it back. Otherwise, those who are brave are always silent about their love because theirs always came at the right time.