Love as beauty without any dirt or darkness in it
On a Sunday afternoon in early April, year 2019, a thirty year old woman and a ten year older man find themselves having a conversation of great depth and meaning to them both. She senses that through it, she’s fulfilling a part of her purpose on earth since the only thing she’s sure about in life is that she’s destined to speak about love and relationships, in one way or another. And it appears as if he can’t get enough telling people who seem to understand, what a great love he's blessed with, what richness life has brought him through a woman he knows he will love forever, but, with whom he seems to recently have reached a crossroad of some sort.
It’s twenty degrees and the breeze has over the recent days gone from chilly to almost warm. Summer in Berlin is around the corner and the two of them sit in the sun at a club with a garden on the canal, and there they're celebrating the changing season, love and freedom, together with the queer and the beautifully quirky (and half naked) individuals, who around them are moving to rhythms of deep house and disco. What follows, is the conversation taking place between them.
HE: She has ‘this thing’. ‘This thing’ is forever impenetrable, and it must be. We keep ‘this thing’ to ourselves, you know. I cannot reach hers, and she cannot reach mine, you know?
SHE: Wait, what do you mean ‘this thing’? What ‘thing’?
HE: Us! I mean, ‘this thing’ is what is us. It’s her soul. My soul.
SHE: Ah, yeah. No, of course. Maybe integrity is to always keep ‘this thing’ to ourselves. Although, I’m not sure if that’s integrity in its right meaning. Maybe true integrity is actually the opposite. Maybe integrity is to fully stand by a decision, even a decision of an ultimate exposure of our privacy; to be completely vulnerable, inevitably. I’m not saying it’s necessarily a wise thing to fully let your guard down, but aren’t you curious of what could emerge through it? I don’t mean with anyone of course. But with her. If you love her, and she’s strong as you say, maybe this is the next step on your journey – maybe it’s what you have to do.
HE: No. I cannot do that. I will never be able to give away myself completely. Some things are just for our selves.
SHE: What do you think would happen if you gave yourself away?
HE: Oh, I don’t know. I just know I can’t see it ever happening. I don’t think she would give herself away either. Or, she might be closer to something like that. Actually, maybe she would. She is probably more prepared to expose herself in the way you're talking about — more than I am anyway. I just know that I can’t. I wouldn’t.
SHE: You don’t want to.
SHE: I understand that. And maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe we shouldn’t. I’m just thinking: I want to do it, one day. If we only have one life on this earth, I must know what it is to be completely exposed to someone else, to see what would happen, what could come out of it. Shit. I wish I will meet someone one day that I feel I can really trust, you know. With my life, so to speak. Do you trust her?
HE: Yes, I do.
SHE: That’s good. That’s beautiful. But, do you hurt each other on purpose sometimes?
HE: Ehm. Yes and no. Unfortunately, it happens. But very seldom, and we know when we do it, what’s going on.
SHE: Okay, I understand. It happens. But you’re aware. Do you have humour?
HE: Have what?
SHE: Humour? Do you laugh?
HE: What? I don’t…
SHE: Do you have humour, in your relationship? Do you have fun?
HE: Oh, humour! (laughing) Oh, yes! A lot! Yeah, we laugh a lot!
SHE: Okay, nice. But of course you do.
HE: Yes, she is very funny. Very clever.
SHE: (pause) I think you will be fine. You will find a way.
HE: Yeah, yeah, I know we will.
SHE: I think the key is patience. To be patient with the pain.
HE: Oh, but there’s no pain. It’s not painful.
SHE: What? What do you mean it’s not painful? Of course there must be pain. Are you saying you don’t feel pain with her?
HE: No, of course I feel pain. But not now. It’s not so much pain in this right now. We already went through pain, oah! It’s been really painful before. Believe me. There was pain.
SHE: Oh, yeah okay, so you’re beyond it. I get it. You already gone through the pain, and love, and all those heavy emotions and now it’s maybe just… static.
HE: Yeah. It is. It’s static. I guess you could say that.
SHE: Ah wow, so you have this static, dense kind of mixture of all emotions of your past experiences, that you live in right now. And the patience of not knowing what’s going to be, how things will unfold, is now your companion in this static tension. Shit, I wonder what it’s like. It must be pretty intense. But also cooling, in a way.
HE: Yeah! It’s… It is what it is.
SHE: Well, I’m not entirely sure of what I’m talking about, to be honest. But, what if you could look at it like the desert you told me about?
HE: What desert?
SHE: The one she walked through. The one she said was too beautiful - -
HE: Oh, the desert - -
SHE: - - yeah, the overwhelmingly beautiful salt desert in Bolivia, with the mirrored sky, that was too beautiful – provokingly beautiful. And you told her to accept it for what it is. Without any dark or dirt in it.
SHE: Maybe that’s what you have to do with the static mix of your accumulated emotions in your relationship with her. Don’t try to make it into something, see if you can surrender to its perfection, and let hours and days pass without making any decision. You will know eventually, when it’s time to move. To move with her, or to move alone. And if you decide to move with her – maybe you should contemplate your fear of letting your guard down. It might turn out, you have nothing to fear. Really. But what do I know?
HE: Well, what do I know? (laughing)
SHE: But anyway, (amused) if you do fully expose yourself to her, don’t hold me accountable for any outcome! I’m just - -
HE: Oh no, of course not. Of course I wouldn’t.
SHE: Yeah, it’s your responsibility. (laughing)
HE: But of course.
SHE: Ah, well, whatever you do, just be careful with each other.
HE: There’s no other way.
A man and a woman in their late twenties who met for the first time seven years earlier in a country across the globe, have recently had their second encounter. It was a successful one, and so, they decided to go dancing together that same weekend.
It’s early Monday morning in September, Berlin, year 2019. The summer is coming to an end. Since the two arrived at the club about ten hours prior to this moment, they’ve been enjoying each others company, the music and the atmosphere, and now they thrive in a conversation they didn’t know they’d both longed for, for a long time. They sit in a corner, resting their bodies against the cool concrete wall behind them while the music’s aggressively pounding from downstairs.
HE: Have you ever experienced a moment which you felt was of deep spiritual nature? Like you were in touch with a higher existence, like a moment you felt was holy in a way, if you know what I mean?
SHE: Yes, for sure. I’ve had a few of those. Definitely.
HE: Would you like to share one of those moments with me?
SHE: Sure, I mean, to be honest, the first one that comes in mind is the orgasm. For me, having an orgasm is very spiritual.
HE: Yes - -
SHE: But other than that, sometimes, very seldom, but once in a while I find myself being in a state of extreme sensitivity, where I feel I’m on a different frequency, so to speak, and I’m open to perceive the world’s soul in a way. It coincides mostly during or after taking drugs though - -
HE: But that’s alright, same goes for me.
SHE: Ah, alright. Yeah, I think they count too.
HE: Of course.
SHE: Okay so, I don’t really know how to explain it, but sometimes I’m in such a sensitive state, where I just feel extremely vulnerable, and then a song or a poem can trigger a breakdown, or a breakthrough rather, and I cry my eyes out in a form of gratefulness of what I’m experiencing, of being able to feel so much, so strongly, deeply, with the world. The word ‘Weltschmerz’ come to mind. I feel raw sorrow and beauty and I levitate and just cry.
HE: Hm. Interesting. Do you feel light afterwards?
SHE: Yeah, I do. A good cry is always a relief.
HE: Yes. But, if you don’t mind, could you maybe try to describe how it feels inside you, in these moments? What’s the sensation within? If you can - -
SHE: Oh, that’s a tough one. I’ve never tried to - -
HE: Yeah, if you’re able to put it into words. But it’s okay if you... I know it’s probably very difficult.
SHE: Well, I can try. Okay, so, (pause) I guess the feeling within when I reach this climax is basically like a form of existential orgasm. But that doesn’t say much, does it? Well okay, I... It’s like my chest empty completely, like it’s a hollow space which at the same time holds the essence of the entire universe. It’s everything and nothing. It’s not either or, but all, yet still just nothing. Yes, it’s a paradox that violates the basic laws and the very essence of Aristotelian logic, mind you, like (pause) think of it as emptiness having a form. And all this I feel it inside my chest, (pause) and in there, it feels like someone's squeezing out water from a wet cloth. And I know, it’s going to finish soon. Soon there won’t be any more water in the cloth to force out, so I let go and just enjoy the squeeze and the last drops of water coming out before it’s all over and the cloth stretches out again. That squeeze is so intense, and pleasurable. It’s high tension, indeed. That moment just before the cloth’s about to stretch out feels like an internal vomiting. Like I vomit inside my chest. But a beautiful vomit. (she laughs) Yes, like I’m vomiting pure beauty. Vomiting love. And to me they’re definitely holy, these moments.
HE: Okay. That’s interesting.
SHE: Mm. What’s interesting?
HE: No, I just find all of it interesting. I’m curious on how other people experience these kind of holy moments.
SHE: I see. Oh well, I think what you might be asking for, this feeling of holiness and being one with the world in a specific moment, can be defined as what Freud coined as an “oceanic feeling”. Although, 'oceanic' indicates tension-free, and 'oceanic feeling' is basically an experience resembling a calm state of existence, as of a fetus in a and healthy womb; a gentle bliss. Where as the vomiting of beauty, like the squeeze I just talked about, is high tension and can rather be described as yeah, a vomit (pause) or a volcanic feeling. (excited) Actually, I think I’ve read this somewhere. I can’t remember where exactly, but the words ‘oceanic’ and ‘volcanic’ followed by ‘ecstasy’ comes to mind, and isn’t it quite a clear, conceptual definition of a holy moment? Like, the intensity of ecstasy range from 'oceanic' to 'volcanic'. Watching a sun rise is not as intense as orgasming but both experiences make you feel connected (pause) to the world and to all living (pause) things, in a way. I guess it’s a feeling of belonging, and the beauty in belonging is that you sense there’s a purpose to your existence and that in turn is what makes us happy in the long run. So on the ecstasy-scale, what I just described for you with the wet cloth in the hollow yet intact space within, was, I guess, basically volcanic ecstasy.
HE: (laughs) Nice. But okay, I get it. That’s not bad.
SHE: Volcanic ecstasy? (laughs) Yeah, no, It’s amazing! I mean, it’s meaning. Purpose. Anyway, for me, this usually happens when I accept something that’s been bothering me. Like, the song or the poem or whatever it’d be I’m exposed to, is piercing my shield and forces me to admit to my fear. I admit something I’ve been trying to suppress, and I’m finally verbalising it (pause) internally, at least.
HE: You surrender.
SHE: Yes. Yeah, for example the last one I experienced was at a time when my biggest fear, my deepest fear... or wait, I’m not sure I want to share this. Wait.
HE: You don’t have to, it’s alright.
SHE: Yeah, but at the same time, we’re like socially programmed not to share our fears, I mean, we don’t really know each other you and I, and it’s a vulnerable thing, right? Although... (pause) Okay, so that’s basically why I hesitate, but honestly, I don’t feel vulnerable sharing this with you. I have confidence in both you and in this conversation, and I want it to continue, so I will tell you what it was, my deepest fear, at that point in my life when I last had an volcanic ecstasy (pause) episode.
HE: If you want to share it, I’m glad to hear it, really, but don’t feel pressured.
SHE: Yeah, no worries, I want to. Basically, my deepest fear was for sometime a fear of never meeting someone who'll love me, and who I'll love back. Never finding true love. And I listened to a song when I came home from a rave after having been awake for I don’t know how long, and the song was so incredibly sad and beautiful, and some of the lyrics went: “You would never reproach me” or ‘judge me’, you know. And then: “You wouldn’t turn your face away. You would look at me through the light rain”. And I finally admitted that I’m so scared of never finding that person. What if I never get to experience that kind of trust. Love, inevitably. And I know it has to start with me, that I have to love my self first, before any love can be unconditional, and I’m still a bit ashamed that I want that love with someone else so badly, since we should not want and long for it so, we should be able to feel that the love for one self is enough, and that life can be good, and great even, without a partner. And listen, I do want to feel that self love first and foremost, but still, I want that other love too, real badly. I feel like I’ve been waiting for so long. And it was such a relief to finally accept that longing, to embrace it. It felt so good to admit that I simply want to find love and have a boyfriend, and that I don’t just want to be strong on my own.
HE: (long pause) I’ve also thought about that - -
HE: Not finding (pause) that person... Who wouldn't turn her face away... (He looks at her)
I fear it too.