It’s An Island

Photograph by Yusuf Kidwai

Beware lest stern Heaven hate
you enough to hear your prayers!
– Anatole France

Everyone loves to complain about love. It is glamorous to be miserable in love, skeptical or commitment-phobic. It’s sexy to have affairs while tied to a cold spouse. Even better to be that romantic vagabond uselessly searching for the one with whom to rest their soul. I’ve listened to middle-aged women at restaurants deriding their lazy slobs of husbands. Guys and girls complain about boyfriends and girlfriends stifling them, cheating on them, neglecting them. Men complain about nagging wives. If someone is currently in a good relationship, they will complain about previous ones. Of course, not all of these complaints are baseless, nor are they all justified. The sad truth is that most people will always be unhappy with love, whether in relationships or not.

However, an even sadder truth exists. Being in good, lasting love is very lonely. When someone asks how your weekend was, you can’t say that you stayed up all of Saturday night talking and then spent all of Sunday in bed when you’ve been together for two years. You can’t tell them you took her to a great restaurant just because, that he actually did take wonderful care of you when you were sick. You certainly can’t tell people you don’t really ever fight. People are immediately skeptical, cynical or, heaven forbid, jealous. Your friends tell you that they want you to be happy, but there is really no appropriate venue to say, “As a matter of fact, I am extremely happy in my relationship!”

People in love must therefore adapt to the inhospitable climate by either exaggerating the faults of their partners to have something to complain about, or by learning to simply treasure up their secret happiness in their hearts. It is even impossible to share your happiness with others in your situation either because you can’t find them or, more likely, because of mutual skepticism. Love is an island, but love is a good, beautiful, true and exhilarating island. It is not easy. In fact, sometimes it is miserable. But there’s certainly something worth noting when no one out of love would opt to stay there, and no one in good love would ever choose to go back. Maybe I wouldn’t have it otherwise.

Here we will moor our lonely ship
And wander ever with woven hands,
Murmuring softly lip to lip,
Along the grass, along the sands,
Murmuring how far away are the unquiet lands
– W.B. Yeats