On Love and Loss

(For background listening: Jeff Beck, ‘Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers’)

In bed one night, I tried to remember an old girlfriend’s mobile number and could not. There had been a time when her entry in my address book had extra ‘a’s to make it easier to find in my phone, when I would dial her number out of habit when I had been intending to order pizza. Then we had ended – what had been us had come to an end. I didn’t realise I had forgotten her number until I tried and failed to recall it. It was eerie to think that somebody could be so much a part of my life – occupy so much of my time and thoughts, inhabit even my dreams – for a time, and then, some time afterwards, be almost wholly absent.

The other day I was looking for a song, Eartha Kitt’s ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy’, so I opened my hotmail account and went back in time, looking for the email sent to me in 2006 by a then-ladyfriend, with it attached. I didn’t find it but found another one from her. It was eerie then, too, to read the hopeful flirtation, to see how I had bantered and been so eager: how the prospect of this nascent relationship had excited me so much. In hindsight, I was almost mournful at how far it had fallen short of my dreams. Things went sour with this girl when she, noting my juniority in years, suggested I come back to her when I was older. I’m older now, and I see her around uni. I’ve sat with her on the lawns and admired her attractiveness, marvelling at the unique confluence of circumstances that brought us together and so cognisant now of the unimaginability of our having lasted for longer than we did.

What strikes me about my limited and completely narrow set of experiences is the sensation, in hindsight, of having been on my own trajectory, and of having intersected with others on their own life trajectory. So while I and somebody else could intersect for a time, and delight in creating music together, we are each continuing on our own path, largely independent of our influence upon one another. Not because of what is happening in our present, but simply because of what has happened in our past and how that has shaped each of us and each of our futures, we, as time passes, are drawn further apart. Then we separate, perhaps a little like two pizza slices tied previously together with mozzarella cheese.

Thus, when I look back over the surrealist landscape of my past (I definitely picture it as a painting by Dali), I can see the tracks where I spent time trekking hand-in-hand with another, as well as decrepit structures once were considered home. While my own path through this landscape was always determined, the people I met had an infinity of paths available to them, so the fact that they had a different path is no surprise. It’s pleasant enough to re-encounter such people and witness the path they have taken, all the while struck by how our togetherness, which is relatively fleeting when compared with our apartness, could have happened under no other circumstances. “What is actual”, in the words of T.S. Eliot, “is actual only for one time. And only for one place.”

This certainly doesn’t make a relationship fruitless or something to be regretted – while an end is sad thing and, as Deep Blue Something reminds us, “so much is left undone”, it can’t go back in time and diminish from the joyousness of a relationship in its prime. For me, it is not so much sad to know of my relationships that have ended, but to think of the endings themselves, which have often been sad. The memory, however, of the distant times, the once-forgotten emails, the ease with which I dialled someone’s number, how hearing somebody’s voice could make me smile, how the touch of a person’s hand could thrill me, is gladdening.

Kundera wrote that, for a love to be unforgettable, fortuities must immediately start fluttering down to it “like birds to Francis of Assissi’s shoulders”. What’s being acknowledged here is that a love is a chance occurrence, something that depends upon a myriad of variables and can be thwarted by something as insignificant as a poorly-considered joke. It’s no surprise then, that along the pathway of my life are strewn false hopes and unrealised dreams. A ‘love’ can spring into being as fluidly as co-dancing to Benny Goodman’s ‘Sing Sing Sing’. Sustaining such a love, on the other hand, against what Shakespeare calls, “reckoning Time, whose million’d accidents | Creep in ‘twixt vows, and change decrees of kings” is a feat indeed.

What is actual is actual only for one time. And only for one place. – T. S. Eliot

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65 Responses to “On Love and Loss”

  1. Nice post Joel!

  2. Very cool! Thanks for the great post!

  3. Excellent. You put words in my mind..

  4. You’ll find her, and she you, when you’re both ready. Lovely post.

  5. “Stop thinking, and end your problems.” ~ Lao Tzu

  6. Is love something that happens to us or something that we choose? I think their may be more in common between love “springing into being” and “sustaining” than you indicate here. Love is not some transcendent force that we must submit to, it is a choice we must make each day.

  7. Joel, this was a truly beautiful post. Very powerful, very insightful. And it is no coincidence that some of these issues have been on my Mind the last few hours.

    Interestingly enough, a year or two ago I sent several of my clients, students and friends a broadcast Email entitled “The Nature of Love and Loss.” I think you captured what I did not write, at the time.

    Once again, many thanks for this.

  8. Thank you so much for this post. It was beautiful and powerful. These ideas are ones that I have never thought about, and yet, I now wonder if I was simply unconscious of them.

    Interestingly enough, a year or two ago I sent a broadcast Email to several of my clients, students and friends. It was entitled “The Nature of Love and Loss.” I think I need to reread it, but I have a feeling that what I did not convey in that Email you conveyed in your post.

    Once again, many thanks.

  9. Deep and lovely narrative. Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  10. I’m in love with this post, your words, your thoughts. Beautifully written. Sometimes, you read something someone else has written and you feel like they have put into words the very thoughts you had in your head; thoughts that you never noticed. But when someone else expresses it, you realize you’ve always felt the same! Reading your post was an experience of that sort for me. There are so many sentences that touched my mind, so many that if I began pointing out, this comment would turn out to be a blog post of my own. Now, that’s an idea! Anyway, great post. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  11. Really nice reflection. Having found a lasting love some 12 years ago those moments are still memories but held together.

  12. great post! Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! 🙂

  13. A lovely post and so true. Old relationships fade like old photographs until all we are left with are some indistinct memories.

  14. Nishajyoti Sharma Reply August 17, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Nice read… liked it!

  15. Quiet insightful 🙂
    Congrats on freshly pressed! 🙂

  16. The Dali picture. Is that a Macbook Air in the background (top left)?

  17. I sense words of the head, eloquently spoken. Where’s the raw emotion? 😉

  18. loved this! And love that song too

  19. can i say eerily nice ? 🙂

  20. Hits close to home for me.

  21. Lovely thought provoking post. “Some people come into our lives and quickly go, while others stay awhile, leave footprints on our hearts and we are never ever the same”. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  22. Very nice post – really enjoyed reading this and definitely well deserved Fresh Press 😀

  23. Enjoyed your post. As time goes by, the more I realise that love is a verb, not a noun. It is a decision, a commitment to still be there in the morning which is made with both eyes open and an acceptance that nobody is perfect. I have been married for almost 11 years now with many highs and lows. The days of being single and being bale to just walk away are a long time past.

  24. I donot know how to react to this post.
    It makes me feel sadder perhaps, considering that i am going through a breakup currently, while simultaneously having fallen for somebody else, both of these people who i love.
    I lost somebody, and found somebody, but the pain never leaves me. the pain of still being in love with somebody who i love(d), and being in love with somebody just now..
    Both aren’t around, to add to it.

    I’m sorry that i have nothing to say about YOUR post, and am just participating in a one way,-pile on verbal diarrhoea.
    You write very well.

  25. Really lovely. 🙂

  26. shesellzseeShellz Reply August 17, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    A wise blog!

  27. “…a love is a chance occurrence, something that depends upon a myriad of variables and can be thwarted by something as insignificant as a poorly-considered joke.”

  28. I loved it!
    Thank you for sharing.

  29. beautifully written and humbly wise

  30. This was really touching. With time we do learn to forget the bitter aspect and try remember the childlike feelings of nascent love.

  31. Wow. You write very well. 🙂 Interesting read!

  32. let me think, made me feel – thank you!

  33. Absolutely beautiful and touching.. we are all on our own trajectories.. your post has made me see things that I had forgotten, thank you for sharing!

  34. You’re a wonderful writer and this was a great piece. Thank you for sharing and making sense of love and loss.

  35. All the people we cross paths with and connect with albeit briefly end up shaping us into the kind of people we eventually become. So you are right that there’s nothing to regret. It’s just strange and bittersweet how something that was once the pivot of your life becomes just a memory fading away at the back of your head.
    Thank you for sharing 🙂

  36. Beautiful reflection. I often think of my past relationships and how close I once was to someone and how different or far apart we now are.

  37. “For me, it is not so much sad to know of my relationships that have ended, but to think of the endings themselves..” the climax in my reading! have you read kundera’s The book of laughter and forgetting?

    • Thank you 🙂 I really enjoyed “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” but haven’t finished other works – I think I should get on to that one, as well as “The Joke”.

  38. That every interaction we have, they are part of an intersection that will end sooner or later.
    Wonderful post.

  39. Enjoyed the positive analysis of this. Thanks for writing it 🙂

  40. Excellent post very positive.(the melting time by Salvador Dali) l studied his art in college.regards

  41. rendered me a great pleasure to read your text. You have a great writing style and it is always refershing to read something well written. Thank you. I guess we all write about the same, but from different perspectives. And yours is easy to digest and attractive!

  42. well written! could totally relate to all of it. 🙂 thanks for the post!

  43. Nicely written. I could totally relate on everything you have said. The feeling of losing someone who has been a big part of your life… it’s something, i don’t know, maybe really sad to think.

  44. Wonderful writing !!! Hats off !!!

  45. sometimes its nice to know that you aren’t the only one learning these kinds of lessons. thanks

  46. “Then we separate, perhaps a little like two pizza slices tied previously together with mozzarella cheese.”
    a very emotional post, liked it a lot 😉

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