Falling for someone
“FALLING in love,” as M. Scott Peck famously wrote in “The Road Less Traveled,” “is a feeling.” Peck argued that when one falls in love, he or she should also expect to fall out of love. The reason Peck cites is that love is not really a feeling. Feelings are contingent and fleeting. For him, true love is an act. True love means to commit oneself in concrete ways to the beloved—not only because one intends the other to be happy, but because one also intends to grow in loving the other.
But you fall for someone, always, for reasons so foolish that philosophers think they’re worthy of scornful laughter. It all begins, say, in the loveliness of her eyes, or the color of her hair, her cheekbones and all, or her bewitching smile. Then you will notice her presence everywhere—in your mind, in your dreams, in those red roses or dandelions and, in fact, in every beautiful flower that you see.
And because of what you are going through, the very dark night and an incurably insane moon suddenly have meaning to you, raindrops become the tears of fallen angels, and you suddenly feel the rush of blood into your spine—your heart bleeds, a pain that is just so excruciating that you want to die in her arms amid all ruins even if there is really no war.
Then, you will lose a lot of sleep, you will lose your appetite, you will forget all the names of your teachers, and your pit bull suddenly becomes an orphan. And one day, you will find yourself beside her on a bench, or the stairs, or in a secret garden. You have done some practice, bringing chocolates and all, and yet, not a single word has been uttered by you. But then something happens—she suddenly runs away from you. Yet, coincidence or what have you, you will find each other again. So you will say your first “sorry”—your very ticket to forever. What you feel is insane, demented, nuts, absurd, so wrong and so stupid—call it the madness of love.
But as the days go by, you will soon realize that she’s different. You will find how unique she is —that her dreams are distinct, that she’s not just any woman, but that very special someone. She will slowly reveal her inner beauty—the strength of her inner character, her love for family, the humanity in her tears. In the past you only wanted to dream of those moments of being with her, but right in the here and now you have realized that all you really want is to share life with her until the end of time.
Yet, after many months or years, reality will begin to unfold. Some words will hurt. There are times when the other will need space more than she will need you. This not-so-magical unraveling becomes a crucial challenge for two people who seek to become one despite their distinct and unique attributes as individuals. Many love stories do not have a happy ending. Romeo and Juliet, perhaps, have made people equate every romantic love story to the experience of tragedy. Love is sometimes that march to the grave. Perhaps, we can find comfort in the philosopher Gabriel Marcel, who describes true love as eternal: “Thou shall not die.”
But the most powerful words on love by a man perhaps come from Gabriel Garcia Marquez: “Nobody deserves your tears. But whoever deserves them will not make you cry.” Indeed, if you love someone, you will not make her cry. Your only real duty to the person you love is to perpetuate her freedom. And what that means is that you will desire nothing but her happiness. There is nothing so mysterious about this. It is all about “me” being happy in seeing “you,” and “you” becoming so sad when “I” am away. In the end, it is not just about “me” and “you,” but “us,” together. Finally, Marquez tells us this one immutable truth: “There is no greater glory than to die for love.”
Still, it will be terribly hard. Maybe, a woman need not choose the right man; she can only choose to love, and for this reason, the right man. And so Marquez still provides the best admonition so far to those so afflicted by love: “Take advantage of it now, while you are young, and suffer all you can… because these things don’t last your whole life…” Yet, falling for a man will never be easy, because as what the poet Rainer Maria Rilke has written in “Letters to a Young Poet,” there is something wild, violent and malicious in every male species.
It matters not, perhaps. “Maybe,” as Arthur Miller said, “what we can hope for is to end up with the right regrets.” So you will always fall in love. And you can only fall for someone because you cannot just fall for anyone. And you will hold on to it. You will hold on because losing the object of your love means losing the one and only thing that defines so perfectly in an imperfect world what it all means to actually live a beautiful life.
Christopher Ryan Maboloc teaches philosophy at Ateneo de Davao University. He has a master’s degree in philosophy from Ateneo de Manila University and a master’s degree in applied ethics from Linkoping University in Sweden. The second volume of his book, “The Harshest Things You’ll Ever Learn about Love,” has just been released.
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