Originally written on Jan 22, 2012.
by Pat Nogoy SJ
“My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.
The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another’s. She will be another’s. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms,
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.” [Pablo Neruda]
The Crack of Dawn
Forgetting happens if there is forgiving. Forgive means to completely give. The lover is asked to give himself completely to the pain of loss, the acceptance of the decision to separate, a broken whole, a shattered perfection. Though the broken past can compel him to clam up, the lover must not lose sight of giving himself completely to the reality that he is still alive, though hurting, that he did not actually lose everything of himself despite the destruction of togetherness that already nurtured his becoming. He must awaken to the awaiting arms of the future. The idea of future (Bergson) that exists in the present can only be nurtured when the lover completely gives.
The weight of a broken vow exhausts the lover. His whole self is spent; his reason for being crushed. This reality is more than enough to distrust a promising future for the lover still desires the fleeing past. I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her. Self spent, the lover turns to love—instances of love coming from friends and families, a love given by others. Though the burden is identical to him—a boulder only he can carry—by sharing it to others, he remains open to receive. Articulating his narrative allows him to remain connected to the world, the source of his pain and renewed strength. The first instance of forgiveness is found in the lover’s cry for help. In spite of the piercing pain, the lover chooses to remain open. He chooses to forgive by embracing the world again. Embracing the world enriches the lover through its gift of possibilities. The receipt of the future filled with possibilities assists the lover in letting go.
To completely give results in a disposition of non-possession. Giving enables the lover to be open, allowing things to pass by, posturing the lover to let go. Letting things pass by (resentment, anger, frustration, unwanted jealousy, fear) facilitates the passing of the past to the idea of the future, a future pregnant with possibilities even if it will not lead to the realization of a particular idea of possibility (Bergson). The lover unburdens himself of the weight of separation and worry of time by giving himself completely in order to let go. The lover continues to love by going through pain and letting his beloved go. Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer and these the last verses that I write for her.
Henri Bergson emphasizes the idea of duration in his essay, Time and Free Will. He writes that “there exist two different selves; one is the external projection of the other. Our fundamental self is not open to measure; a free self that becomes in duration and not in mathematical or measurable time, which our external projections belong.” In this age of accelerated pace due to technological advances, our mentalities have shifted and are often confused especially with time. Often, we are pressed given the number of appointments and errands we have to make. Productivity and efficiency have become the arche of living. The culture of speed has permeated our lives deeply, creating an illusion that life and its challenges like love can easily be solved using practical solutions governed by our own determined time. Bergson cautions that “we live for the external world rather than for ourselves; we speak rather than think; we ‘are acted’ rather than act ourselves.” Accelerating lived experiences muddles the exist-ing and existence of things. It has been the greatest theft of wisdom in these times, favoring productivity and efficiency. We live instead for time not realizing that time is the twin of our being. It is we who pass away when we say time passes away (Heidegger).
Yet we discover that life is bigger than mechanical or scientific time, that love is its own time. Summers can be lasting or can be mere rendezvous. The same is true for winters. Romance can be short, pain can be long. In the matters of love, what enables the lover to overcome time is his endurance. To endure means to harden, to be solid. In the tormenting scatter brought about by the shattering of togetherness, the lover is left poor. His self, given wholly to the other, has been spent. What he is trying to protect and cherish is already broken. A sudden drifter, the lover hopes for light in the dark and terrible night. He needs to endure.
Shafts of light can only penetrate once the lover learns to forget. Forgetting is to let go—to let things pass by without holding on to them. Forgetting asks the lover to be completely poor for only in his poverty will he be gifted. Forgetting demands forgiving from the lover: to completely give instead of locking up. Forgetting enables the lover to appreciate the gift of wisdom coming from a failed relationship with a beloved. Forgetting liberates the lover from a painful past, giving him freedom to gather himself again. As Bergson notes, “to act freely is to recover possession of oneself and to get back in duration.” In gathering himself again, the lover endures.
His endurance will permit him to make the greatest act of love that will bring true closure to a failed relationship. This courageous act can only come after letting go, after a painful forgetting. These last verses of a promising togetherness that brought joys and sorrows, changes and surprises, summers and winters, are concluded in the pen-stroke of letting be. With all his strength despite the nagging pain and wounds, the lover kisses the beloved goodbye. Such hurtful goodbye is the only way back to the beginning of every love story: freedom. The lover in his last great act of love sets his beloved free, and in doing so, sets himself free.