Monday, December 20, 2010

forgiving love's defective vision

once upon a time, three friends (whose identity will remain hidden to protect the innocent and guilty alike) met for coffee. much like many group of friends before, conversation inevitably steered to ‘significant-other-bitching’ at one point.

friend 1, laments that he is so tired of his partner being selfish and never considering the situation from the other’s perspective.

friend 2 asked, ‘did you not know this before you made a commitment to be in a relationship with him?’

to which, of course, friend 1 did. and, being in the safe environment of friends, admitted to reluctantly.

friend 3 offered that this may not be intentional. it is simply his partner feeling free to express himself and from his point of view, his behaviour may not necessarily be selfish or inconsiderate, it just being – well, himself.

friend 1 said, ‘if that is so, then he doesn’t get me.’

all three fell silent for a while, lost in their thoughts.

friend 2 started asking why is it that many times our lovers don’t get us and our friends effortlessly do.

friend 3 (the psychologist in the group) explained that friendship is defined by commonality while love by fascination, requiring a level of mystery – thus the unknown.

this conversation stuck with me long after the caffeine has left my system. i asked myself many times:

is this true? in a relationship, are we all doomed to spend the rest of our lives (if we’re lucky) with a person who by virtue of their love for us, will never understand us?

like many dillemas before me, i can deal with it as long as i understand it. so i tried to ponder the issue a bit more.

after much thought, i figured that when you love somebody, you’re interaction is limited to the minute distance of intimate spaces. this closeness, while allowing for perspective that reveals stark detail, can only focus on a limited space at a time and inhibits a view of the complete picture. much of which is lost and the rest suffers from the haziness of peripheral vision. love is not blind. it is just that love when actualised, suffers from tinges of myopia, sometimes hyperopia or even tunnel vision.

viewed from this angle, this short-sightedness is not an absence of empathy but a testament of one’s intimacy.

comforted by the thought, i now listen to ani difranco’s song, thinking i have the answer to her question:

‘he didn’t understand me
but i don’t know why i didn’t go
he didn’t understand me
and he had every chance to know.’

he loved you and he cannot see all of you because you are too near. but he sees you in a way no other cannot.

a fair trade-off? maybe not.

but for me, a macro-lensed witnessing of my life (warts, scars and all) is as important as affirmation i receive from those who view the soft light, airbrushed image i present to the rest of the world. believing that those warts, scars and all that i endeavour to conceal define me more than the complete picture and may not be so repulsive, when viewed with love.

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