One passage in Paulo Coelho's The Pilgrimage has provoked me a lot. This is what he says: "We are always suffering because of someone who doesn't love us, or someone who has left us, or someone who won't leave us. If we are alone, it is because no one wants us; if we are married, we transform the marriage into slavery." (Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage, Hapertorch, New York, 1992, p. 63)
That is a dread truth. If we suffer, it is always someone's fault. If our relationship is in crisis, that person's heart is cruel. And then there is this much talk about "happy ever after". Then in a relationship you start hearing such expressions like "I can't understand my boy friend, he hardly tells me what he is up to." Or some such talk like "my girlfriend is getting way too jealous. It irritates." How much can one know that the other really loves him/her with absolute sincerity. Thinking about this statement from Paulo Coelho and all the much talk about hurting in relationships, I have come to the following impressions.
1- Love is a free gift. Given without hope of any returns. There is never any bargain. Love is the only thing that isn't paid for.
2- The secret of remaining contented in a relationship isn't striving to understand the measure with which one is loved. Gratitude for a love received enlarges the heart of its subject.
3- Love isn't slavery, love isn't a form of bondage. It is a force that binds us to another. And it is in this binding that it liberates. That is the paradox of love. It is its own creative force.
4- Love is always a relationship; that is, the movement of some energy towards another person. It is never the way round. There are hurts because we tend to draw it towards ourselves.
5- Love fulfills itself in its emptying.
I have always viewed the art of loving as a state of freedom. Not physical freedom, the inner freedom which defines our individuality, our sense of personhood, the beauty of our uniqueness which remains the only thing we can offer in love. The only thing that could be offered gratuitously. So what are we then when we whimper at being turned into slaves? Love isn't blind as Chesterton says. It is bound. And it is in this that it realizes its freedom.