She sat across from me with a stoic gaze, calm yet invigorated.
She was there, but she wasn’t. Her heart was present, but perhaps her mind was elsewhere, or maybe vice versa. It didn’t bother me, for it was a gift to simply be in this space—to occupy this realm of experience with her, regardless of the terms.
That was enough for me.
We grew up believing love is some perpetual state of climatic excitement, a kind of ethereal drama where everything is entrenched in constant elation and euphoria. But if we have successfully graduated from the fourth grade, then we have probably learned by now that this is not the case.
Love is much more subtle than that, surely. It is a delicate thing, something to be cherished and honored—like a fine wine. We don’t guzzle the whole bottle down right away; rather, we adore it, admire its nuance and intricacy, sip away at it slowly and with great reverence and gratitude, and perhaps even preserve it for another time when its flavors will be even more developed.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that many of us have grown up on Disney films. We learned what love is from Hollywood rather than from anything tangible or real, which could explain why we have such a Daffy Duck level of understanding of love.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many moments of elation in love, but this certainly doesn’t fully characterize or encompass the totality of the experience—at least not in a truly tenable or sustainable way.
I could sit with her for eternity. I really could.
The sun glared off her ivory skin and her thin luminous hair, surrounding her with a kind of sphere of radiance and beauty. We sat by the river, which flowed at its own timeless pace and exuded that fresh smell of crashing water, shining turquoise.
When she spoke, I listened with intent and intensity. I want to hear her. Every word.
We held space for each other, giving the light and energy of our awareness to each other. We were there for each other. We were alone together.
Love is about being able to sit with someone. It is a sort of divine acknowledgement of the other, a recognition and honoring of the existence of that person. It is more than just blind passion, although we could all do with a little bit of that, too. Love implies truly seeing that person, being totally awake for that person in every sense and baring witness to their soul.
We all wish to be seen. Not in the physical sense, but in the sense of being deeply acknowledged for who we are, of being wholly and profoundly understood and perceived.
This is the truest kind of love.
There is nothing more powerful than telling someone, “I see you.”
Her legs were smooth, and they slowly brushed up against the grass. I kept balling up little blades of it and playfully tossing them on her or rolling them up and down her soft skin. She didn’t pay much attention, but seemed to modestly appreciate it. Occasionally, a gentle smirk would creep across her face, those dimples finding their way to the surface.
There were long stretches of silence, as well as moments of both heavy and light conversation. It didn’t matter, really, whether we were ardently engaged or completely quiet. I was there for it all. We were in this space together. The bond was sublime.
We have been lied to about what love is.
Love is not merely pleasure, nor satisfaction, nor amusement. It is not some endless explosion of desire and infatuation. It is not even about happiness really, because many times, relationships are filled with hardship and tribulation. It is not about marriage, some verbal or legal agreement. It is not an adjustment, two conflicting forces learning how to adapt to each other’s chaos and idiocy so as to keep it together enough to procreate.
Love is the ability to hold space for another no matter what, to totally dissolve the boundary between subject and object and give all of oneself to the felt experience of the other. Love is the ability to sit with someone for eternity.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Editor: Callie Rushton