But let there be spaces in your togetherness…
A highly confusing thing to me about the modern Love Industry (and the historical interpretations of the same, if we’re being honest here) is the pervasive opinion that each person has One True Love and further that when you find your One True Love, they will be the piece of your soul that’s missing and only by being together will you be whole.
This is actually mildly horrifying and I don’t entirely understand why anyone would find this state desirable. Isn’t it better to be a whole person on your own, independent, happy of your own volition, and wishing to share that state with someone else? Is it fair to make your happiness someone else’s problem? Are you unwilling to take responsibility for your own life? What happens if/when something happens to you or your partner?
Occasionally, though, I’ll find evidence that not everyone thinks this way. Since this getting married business started, I’ve been collecting quotes and images that work with my interpretation of what marriage is and should be: a partnership between two whole people. We don’t have to be entirely independent and we don’t have to always stand on our own, but the choice to do so or not should be just that: a choice.
One of the most notable and probably one of the quotes that has stuck with me for over a decade is from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran:
Then Almitra spoke again and said, “And what of Marriage, master?”
And he answered saying:
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve always been very independent (my mother tells a story that when I was a baby, she would know that I was awake in the mornings not because I would cry, but because I would be entertaining myself with my busy-box – one of those contraptions that you put in cribs with bells and rattling things that move and make noise – and she could hear the ringing and clicking from the other room as I played with it) and a bit of an introvert besides, but I am fond of my own company. I like being by myself, I enjoy reading when no one else is around, and when given a choice between a loud party or an evening in, by myself, there’s a solid 75% chance that I’ll choose the evening in. I don’t require another person to be content in my life.
However, I love being with Nate and I love seeing him and doing stuff with him, and when he travels for business (which is quite a lot), I miss him, but mostly because I occasionally find myself wanting to turn to him to tell him something that I’ve thought of or show him something I’ve found, or see what he will do when I tell him something ridiculous.
Randall Munroe of XKCD, of course, managed to sum it up brilliantly.
Nate is not the whole of my life and I don’t want to be the whole of his. I want us to have separate interests, to be separate people. I don’t want to always know how his mind works because part of my interest in him is that we are different, separate, and utterly fascinating apart. And I want to spend the rest of my life figuring him out.