Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Return to "Four Loves"

In response to your questions (seemingly related to recent postings) I am re-posting this submission from 12 April 06

I have, on four occasions in my lifetime, allowed myself to cognizantly, and with some measure of mature discretion, fall in love. In each of the circumstances, I was, initially, caught up in the euphoria of the spellbinding enchantment of Her and the moment. But, at some point in each episode, I became subtly aware of the infinite reality that there was no possibility of long-term union for us.

The first of these experiences was quite short-lived. After the epiphanal upheaval of emotion that encompassed the experience had elevated to the point of a “next step” expectation, I went to her, at her place of employment, and said (in a state of bewildered resignation) “I care for and respect you too much to allow you to build any expectations of me… I must tell you that, in a short time from now, I am to be married…I simply admire you far too much to lead you on with any false understandings.” I will never, no matter how long I may live, forget the kind, gracious, loving look in her eyes as she took my face in her hands and kissed me on the cheek. Had there been anyone in my life at that time with the wisdom, understanding, and willingness to mentor me on the significance of that moment, I have no doubt that I would never have followed through with that scheduled marriage.

I recall the exact moment when, in the case of my second of these engagements, I frustratedly attempted to dissuade Her from her love for me with the declared “This can not possibly go anywhere…we are both married and neither of us is willing to terminate that commitment.” What I had presumed would snap Her into a rational awareness only caused her to consider me even more lovable for my concern for the care of her heart. And I found this acceptance to be even more compelling in my love for her. The plain fact that we were both temperamentally predisposed to a yearning for romance that was not shared by either of our spouses left each of us acutely vulnerable to the other. And discovery of each other was a treasure the likes of which neither of us had ever anticipated experiencing. The parting of our lives’ paths severed our physical proximity to each other and the next time that I heard from her was to receive an invitation to her wedding to the man with whom she enjoys a full life (God willing) to this day.

My third license to love I granted myself when I was presented with an invitation to romance. Romance in all of the idealized splendor of possibility and hope. After what a learned Friend and counselor defined as “A run-away train” (I still have the cassette tape with the ‘Runaway Train’ song on it that he mailed to me…fond memories) had run a dizzying course of other-earthly magnificence, I became aware of a gnawing certainty. “Our ‘train’ is going to slow… then stop at a point at which you are going to want to… need to disembark. You are going to want to set out on a new life path. You will be uncertain of and insecure with your ability to walk this path alone…I will walk with you. You will still feel a need for some of the ‘baggage’ of your past…I will carry your baggage for you. At some point you will say ‘I don’t need that stuff any longer’… I will cast it away for you and it will be gone forever. You will become stronger, grow in confidence, and recognize your powers more clearly… you will not be able to ask… I will turn and go back to the ‘station’ alone… knowingly and lovingly.” These are the actual words that I shared with her. She wept and demanded “Never…No… I will never want that to happen” but I understood that blended in with her tears of fear and love was the recognition that what I said was inevitably true… she had sensed it to. And so it was.

The fourth of these openings of myself came only recently. I am far wiser now… I have had the mellowing of fifty-eight years and many miles of experience with matters of my heart to serve as instructors to my willing student of a soul. So, when presented with this opportunity to lay myself out… open to all of the possibilities of and vulnerabilities to freely loving… I said, “Go ahead Heart.” I understood fully that she was in no position to return my love. Her circumstances precluded any possibility for reciprocity… so “Why” you might ask. “For her” is my answer. I would allow myself to ride that whirling ride of ecstasy and delight with no expectation of anything that would satisfy this world’s definition of ‘benefit’… but would I not indeed benefit from the joy… the fuel for the soul…the energy of emotional expression… the ultimate delight and fulfillment in giving the gift of my Self to Her? Yes… my Self as I know myself… an eternal spiritual Being not limited to the confines of geography (for she is thousands of miles away), or time (for she is of a younger generation), or of culture, nationality, religion, or native language. No, My Friend, I am limited by none of these earthly considerations… for I have committed my life to the reality of the infinite Eternity… and this short pilgrimage with all of its ‘limitations’ means not a thing in that scope of life. I, therefore, willingly gave my heart to her with full knowledge that when she reached a point, in her own pilgrimage of progress, she would feel me an awkward encumbrance to her progress… be it an hour from now… a day…month…whenever… it matters not. She will have the knowledge that she has all of the elements of Being that enchanted, mystified, engaged, and swept this old Romantic completely off of his silly old feet... and he fell willingly.

I have given my heart away four times in my lifetime… I repeat. I know many who have never had the blessing of knowing that thrill and satisfaction even once. I am blessed… and happy. Happy in the understanding and knowledge that four lives are, in some measure, better for the introduction of my heart into the recipe of their life. Their fulfillment and individual successes in each of their chosen paths gives me satisfaction. And, while there will forever remain a chamber of my heart that is warmed by the glow of recollection with each of their names on the door, a part of that chamber will forever ring with the hollow echo of emptiness…

Love is never without cost.

JMB (Originally penned 26 Nov 2004)

(IMAGE: Through the gracious courtesy of Ian Britton,

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