I have died everyday
waiting for you
Darling, don't be afraid
I have loved you for a
I'll love you for a
--Cristina Perri, "A Thousand Years"
What makes it possible to say that I have loved someone for a thousand years, and that I will continue to love a thousand more? What makes it possible for me to stretch time, even break its limits, that is, to destroy it, in order to say and mean that my love overcomes time and its horizon? At bottom, and I have asked this a thousand times or more--why can love suspend and more so transgress the universal law and preordained rule of time? At stake here is this: If love be beholden to time, what becomes of it? Can it still claim what it claims--its unto death do us parts, it forevers, its alwayses, or its promises? Or would admitting its inferiority and weakness to time's rule weaken it, and steal from it its very essence and richness, which is its ability to stake itself and its future for what it claims to be true?
Let us see.
I know, in the first place, that I do not exaggerate when I say I have loved you since forever. I can, to be sure, locate in time when I did in fact begin or "officially" started to love you. I met you this or that day, at this or that place, under this or that circumstance, for this or that reason, because of this or that characteristic you had and feelings I developed. My love had a beginning, and like all stories these beginnings are definite: they constitute the first few pages of our love, the first few chapters of what will be an epic of two lives crossing.
But when I say that I have loved you for so long, I know that I do not mean that I have loved you for a long period of time, whether it be ten, five, two years. Love's time and astronomical time are different; love has its own solar system unto itself, it has its own physics. That is where love must be sought, not in days, months, or years much less in anniversaries or old photographs.
We always here of people saying of lovers who are about to marry one of these mindless comments: it's about time, you've been together for so long, or haven't you just met him recently, isn't it too early? among others. Come to think of it, these words mean nothing to lovers. But let's not be too rash and discount the wisdom of many. What gives authority to their judgment is the opinion that it takes time to know a person, and along with this, that it takes time to be certain of someone you want to commit yourself to. That I must first know who the person I am infatuated or terribly in love with is, know his personality, 'quirks', behavior, ambitions and dreams, before I know he is 'the one' for me. But who can ever know a person? Who can ever say that I know her, or him, when I cannot even say that I know that tree outside my window or my hand or my father, my friend? More so, who can ever say I know this mystery and obscurity I call myself, this I, whose face I do not recognize in mirrors in some days and whose actions in others frighten me, who has its own secrets forever hidden, forever inaccessible to my knowledge, which has desires I will never understand. If knowledge be the high tribunal of love's sentences, it will never assure me that its judgments will hold--be true. To know you is not yet to love you. To know you better does not translate to loving you more.
The question of love's certainty and knowledge, so hard to answer much less to pose, has nothing to do with celestial time. We hear of another strongly put word: I knew I loved you the moment I met you. Clarity and lucidity, so hard to attain in this world of illusions and shadows, recover their deserved thrones in the kingdom of the heart. Love revolts against the rule of appearances, it owes its sole majesty and power by revolving around a sun which is not seen by the eyes. (And what is not visible is not enslaved by time.) Love rules without the aid of time because it governs not the movements of the stars or the planets but only the movements of the spirit, the loob, the will. And when it comes to the force of the will, when it is a matter of decision and choice, it will always come down to a matter of freedom. I may not be free to stop the revolution of the planets or the movements of the earth, it may not be in my power to freeze time, but I certainly have the power to choose love without knowledge or certainty for the simple reason that I am always free to love now. And all love has is now, never futures or pasts, only presents, solely presence. Love is being and being has no history or future, it can only receive the gift of presence in the present.
We have stumbled upon the word being yet again. This magic word, both stumbling block and bridge, is both the guardian and destroyer of time. The presence of someone you love, Heidegger says, makes available to the lover an experience of the totality of beings, of the "whole" world. What used to be something we cannot grasp mentally or physically, now becomes an object of experience, a privileged phenomenon for lovers. Like a black hole which swallows light and devours planets, the ability to reduce all beings to the presence of someone he loves enables the lover to suspend time, or warp it and bend it--but never to destroy it, only to detonate its hidden grandeur in a spectacular stellar explosion. The myriad beings of the world light up like stars before the gazes of lovers. Beings become more present, they become more than what they are, or they finally become what they are--time, born of the world, or is the world, included.
To then continue to receive love, or to vow to continue to give love a thousand years more, is what makes love come back to and find a home in time--now no longer to violate its governance but to give it the honor of being able to nourish in its years two lovers who love no longer in spite of it, but with it, in it.