The third part in a four-part series on the self in society, focusing on the meaning and origin of love. Published February 2019 in Bilkent News.
Not all true things are desire and not all desire is obeyed. When listened to, this want becomes a wild source of life that consumes most other concerns, making it painful or uncomfortable to ignore any slight impulse. Suddenly all acts gain unbearable value, and the body opens further and further, seeing possibilities in everything, which creates expectations that go unfulfilled and bruise it to reluctance. This generates listlessness that causes fear, makes one wonder whether one is now unable to obey desire or, worse, devoid of it, whether one’s pursuits are valuable or not, whether one wastes time. The situation can expand into total inertia, threaded with suffering at this loss of life.
The suffering lifts when one sees that beside want is indifference. The tendency to ascribe absolute value to large and fabulous things wanes as one finds how little this is. Regardless of whether a person has lived or not, they will die and forget their life. They will forget their thoughts and reactions, and every new experience will be something relearned: I discover this in life, but it seems I already knew. Perhaps it would make no difference if I had not learned it at all. And this is the most freeing thing in the world: I do not have to live. It is no more valuable for me to look out than to stay blind, to fulfill or spoil desire, to be wildly unhappy or blandly discontent. I can die a thousand deaths and never choose to revive again. I can be totally dull to possibilities. I am not obliged to open. Instead, entirely whole, belonging only to myself, I make a free and strong choice to live. I make the free choice to feel. Not because it is valuable, but because I want to, because I know this desire and it transforms me. To live without compulsion and only with want. To listen to my body quickening. Only this bears love.
This existence is entirely unalone. Once one knows this equality of possibilities, he exists together with what eludes him: people, suns, stones, trees – objects of desire. He is able to rise from a sweet, nomadic sleep to ask of anyone anything he needs. Nothing separates him from his surroundings, and so he thinks nothing of new intimacy. To fall into living is natural, to fall out inevitable. He has space beyond and firmer than himself, a bodiless, fibrous sort of beauty. An awareness of beauty devoid of fear. This state cannot be lost or corrupted. It knows its own swaying with time, as all things know stillness and regression. This thickens desire into roots and lichen that store a fair white sun, moving long rays in the body, which will never collapse or go mute – its mouth open, its hands half raised, waiting for creation.
Which is love: to make an impression something else is love, a burning, bristling sort of love that brushes together all the things one has seen. A person becomes sand, the setting sun, the warm salt sea. They become their breaths and their body. Other loves spurt like sweet milk from closeness, this closeness that grows between all things inside one single space of the body, entirely without expectation, without deceit, only feeling and bending to what is natural within it. If received, this love will grow and change without end, deeper and clearer, quivering skin to blood with awareness. It will shiver larger and larger until there is no sight of beginning. Unreceived, it coughs and shudders, pressing outward, insisting until it must either change or die. It is better for love to change than die. Then it is wide and becomes indelicate until, by some chance, it is also the sea.