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Supernova (Revised)





Vincent van Gogh, detail of
Starry Night, taken at The Museum
 of Modern Art, New York
I have died everyday
Waiting for you
Darling, don’t be afraid
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I’ll love you for a
Thousand more
—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 which can be neatly but cruelly summarized as “all things come to an end”—even the good ones (especially the good ones), and those that at one time seemed would be able to stand “the test of time” and go on to last forever? At stake here is this: If love be beholden to time, what becomes of it? Can love still claim what it claims and offer what it offers—its unto death do us parts, its alwayses and forevers, above all its promises? Or would admitting its subservience to time’s rule weaken love, and steal away from it the very power and richness it possesses in its ability to offer what it has now and what it will have in the future? In a word, is it still love when love depends on and is bound to time?

Let us see.

I know, in the first place, that I 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, or two years. Love’s time and astronomical time are different; love is a solar system unto itself, it has its own physics. That is where love must be sought, not in calendars of days, months, or years, much less in anniversaries or old photographs.

We always hear 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? or isn’t it too soon? 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 who you want to commit yourself to. That I must, they say, first “get to know” who the person I am infatuated or terribly in love with is, find out his secrets, his desires and his dreams; that I must know so many things about him before I can make the high claim that he is “the one” for me. But in order to do that I need a lot of time. Thus, we are told, we should “take it slow,” not hurry, not let ourselves “get carried away” by the rush of our emotions.

            But who can ever know a person? Who can ever say that I finally know him that I love, 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; this I which 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 understand you better does not mean I will love you more.

The question of love’s certainty and knowledge, so unfair to pose much more to answer, has nothing to do with celestial time or everyday 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 gathers 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 heavenly bodies or the rotations 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 that love has is now, never futures or pasts, only presents, solely presence. Love is like Being: absolute love knows of neither history nor future: it can only give and receive the gift of presence in the present.

We have stumbled upon the word ‘Being’ yet again. Being 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.” My beloved means the whole world to me; he means everything to me; he is all, and nothing else—no being, no star, no any other man—is important to me when I am with the one I love. Love mysteriously transforms the one I love into all things. What thus used to be something we cannot grasp mentally or physically, the totality of beings becomes an object of experience and a privileged phenomenon for lovers.

But along with the concentration of all beings into one person, love also gathers all times into the same beloved. 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, though never to destroy it. Time is never annihilated by love. Love only gathers all the moments of my life, all my yesterdays and tomorrows, my past sorrows and future hopes, and siphons them toward one abysmal point—or two: in the bottomless eyes of the one I love. My past finally makes sense to me because I found you. Tomorrow no longer frightens me because you loved me.  

To then continue to receive love, or to give love a thousand years more, is what makes lovers who had first been fugitives to time find a home in it. By no longer having to rally against it, lovers grant time the sole honor of being able to nourish in its days, months and years love and its gradual unfolding. Promises are only possible because lovers discern time not as a march to love’s inevitable death, but as the endless horizon that enables them to continue walking as they enjoy each other ever anew. • 

Comments

  1. Anonymous6/24/2012

    "I may not be free to stop the revolution of heavenly bodies or the rotations 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."

    This particular sentence struck me. Come to think of it; the very uncertainty of Love is what keeps people from choosing it most of the time. Some may reason out that they've fallen in love a couple of times already, all of which just resulted to unbearable heartbreaks. But then Love doesn't really start with "falling in love". After the fall comes the realization that you've already hit rock bottom. They've fallen out of love, they say. But they sometimes fail to realize that the moment they "fall out of love" comes also the chance to "choose love". To associate love with the (for lack of a better term) giddy feeling we feel whenever we meet someone special gives no justice to it. While thrill and excitement is part of love, the absence of it is not really the end of love. That's why I pity those who only seek the fall.

    I also agree that Love has its own time. Nobody knows when you'll stop falling and if both of you will stop at the same time. Sometimes you just have to find that person who is willing to walk hand in hand with you after the fall (or maybe even wait for you to come down) even with all those bruises and wobbly knees. Someone who'll have the courage to choose to love and to choose you.

    Early morning thoughts and I don't know if I even make sense. :)

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  2. When there is a dilemma, I always try to imagine the other side, if there were none. So, what if love was always certain, that is, what if we seldom have to choose, stake something, "o hindi kailangang magtaya"? What becomes of love then would be something like a mathematical equation, a matter of arriving at a clear and distinct answer, like two taken twice will always be four. Our decisions would be automatic, plain, evident, or that is, we really do not decide, or at least, we let evident reasons decide for us. Something like this: It is certain that I love him, and that he loves me, therefore it is obvious that I should give this relationship a try--without hesitation, or terror, or something at stake. If computers could love, they'd love that way. Love would be logical, an investment with a guaranteed return, a fixed and scientific economy. But we seldom experience love that way. For the most part, if love always terrifies us, that is because we precisely do not, and cannot as yet, know or be certain.

    I believe that if love ever reaches certainty--and it does, to be sure--it is because certainty is the effect of a choice you make, and not its cause. I am certain about you and my love because I choose you, instead of the other way around (I choose you because I am certain).

    As to the emotions love inaugurates in me at its beginnings, who can ever say that falling in love is not one of the most powerful experiences we could go through? If feelings are wonderful, that is because we do not choose to have them, they come to us like gifts. But, as you said, such thrill and excitement dissipate, and that is so because only our choices can go through time without having to lose its strength or vitality, even novelty. I like what you said: it is at the wake of lost emotions that we can "choose love," or that is, finally begin it. Perhaps it can be said that "falling in love" is a test for possible lovers: if they can recover and nonetheless continue loving each other when emotions subside.

    But actually finding or coming across that one exceptional person among countless possibilities, one who shall also choose love and find me exceptional, too--that will never be only a matter of choice. I cannot choose to love someone who is not there. Whence the seemingly endless wait we can suffer.

    *Ha ha. I told you so. Good to hear from you again as it's been a while.

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  3. Anonymous6/25/2012

    Well following that train of thought, I guess there's really no such thing as the "one". No one is automatically qualified as another person's better half unless they "choose" to be one. Everyone gets his or her own chance in the field; there may be other factors (say, differences in belief, culture, faith, etc.) but at the end of the day, the call is still theirs.

    To say that "I'm not the one for you" is a subtle admission that the beloved is not willing to [choose to] "be" the one.

    At least that's what I believe in and needless to say, what I experienced before. But then again, I might be making a hasty generalization of the subject matter. I'm not an expert in that department, either.

    Well as for you, you were again able to put into words what others (and I) cannot. Love is something that's easy to feel, yet so hard to talk about. There must be something that inspired you to do so. :)

    (and yes I'm quite surprised you still recognized me) Thanks! :)

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  4. True, I agree. Maybe what makes the "one" the "one," as compared to others who come our way, is how easy it is for you to decide and choose him. Some decisions are obvious, but, of course, not without risk--it is both certain of what it feels, though always uncertain about the future. Choosing the "one" turns out to be both the easiest yet gravest decision we make. It sees partly, but is blind especially when it looks to the future. This is why there will always be uncertainty. But that's where trust in the other comes into play: that you will not abandon me or you will, as I, will fight for our love come what may.

    As we all know, it's really difficult to find that person, whence the rarity or, to be more precise, the singularity of the "one." For the most part, it appears to be that finding the "one" is crudely a matter of trial and error. I know that what I just said sounds ugly, to make love appear as a game, an experiment, but there is no way of getting around it. (And as to those who found his or her true beloved in the first instance, well, it can happen that you get it right the first time out. We call them lucky and blessed. But a caveat: how do you know what is correct if you do not know what is wrong?)

    For the rest of us, it is, crudely again, a matter of "experiment." (Again, I apologize for the word.) For how do you find out that your beloved will not leave you except through time? Go through many tests, trials, and temptations you must. And so, as you said, when the supposed "one" leaves, or when the love weakens and you fail the "tests," that is a confession that he will not fight for you anymore. That "it's not worth the trouble," as they say. It is so easy to give up. Broken loves usually are just weary lovers.

    *Perhaps my own experiences have something to do with these. Maybe. Ha ha. It's not about me. Though really, sometimes it's a matter of wanting to find some logic or reason in love. Not, however, to rationalize love or reduce it to a cold mathematics, but aiming to understand it, or wanting to learn from it so that you do not make the same mistakes, so that you grow and mature, so that you can love better. (So maybe that's when it helps to have 'many' experiences of loving. Camus said it crudely: Quantity over quality.)

    But when it is time to love, to actually perform it and experience it anew, you throw all that to the window and go through it as if you have never passed that way before. Not that you forget everything in the past, as is in an amnesia, but the difference will be that you are a thoughtful beginner and not as "crazy, stupid" as before. Even in love it is true that knowing is better than not knowing. And one of the benefits of knowing is you enjoy love better.

    **I am not being clear, I know. It's morning and had a bit too much caffeine again. But these mornings are nice, don't you agree? And yes, your voice is still familiar to me. You always sound happy, as if you write smiling.

    Cheers, my friend.

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  5. Anonymous6/27/2012

    I do hope that we won't get weary - not just in trying to find love (for it is everywhere and it is almost close to impossibility not to see it) but also, in trying to accept love from others. For no matter how painful the consequences are sometimes, giving love and accepting love are still one of the best things human beings ought to experience.

    Love like you've never been broken before - true. But as what you've said, we gain knowledge in the process and in our own brokenness. So choose wisely, as if it's a matter of life and death. Love someone and choose someone who will help you write one of the best chapters in your life. :)

    It's so nice to wake up with the sun shining out of the window and knowing that you have another day, another opportunity to find and accept love. I guess that's where all the cheesiness came from. Or maybe it's just me, being abnormally optimistic. I hope the afternoon rain won't wash the good vibes away.

    Haha! Easy on the caffeine. :) Though it never fails to give me the perk I need every morning and during those busy nights.

    Take care!

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  6. Choose wisely--I guess there's no plainer way of saying it. We only (should) choose once with finality, and that choice makes all the difference in one's life. That is why sometimes the choice is made with fear and trembling.

    *It's not cheesiness, or if it is, perhaps it's idealism, one brought about by openness. One should never choose in despair, but only in happiness and with optimism, light-footed. But not too much, I warn: exuberance, ecstasy also color over possible loves. We choose best in peace, when we are stable, that is, when we don't even entertain love's arrival. Lest the danger that we have already chosen to love even with as yet absent lovers. But that is an altogether different problem.

    **But this morning it is raining, it is grey. I hope this will pass quickly. You take it easy, friend.

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