Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Love and Freedom

I saw a woman sleeping. In her
sleep she dreamt Life stood
before her, and held in each
hand a gift—in the one Love,
in the other Freedom. And she 
said to the woman, ‘Choose!’
And the woman waited long:
and she said, ‘Freedom!’
And life said, ‘Thou hast
well chosen. If thou hadst said,
“Love,” I would have given
thee that thou didst ask for;
and I would have gone from thee no
more. Now, the day will come
when I shall return. In that 
day I shall bear both gifts in
one hand.’
I heard the woman laugh in
her sleep.
~ Olive Schreiner

I don't think I could ever live with a love that did not include my individual freedom. I tried, once, and it did not build my love; it nearly destroyed it. I have both now, and each one makes the other sweeter. I am not with my husband because I must be, or because I am told to be; I am with him because I choose to be, and both our lives are better for it. We walk hand in hand, side by side, not in any particular order but what is natural and convenient at the time, and that is fluid and ever changing. (and a life constricted into roles and symbologies or dictated by convention or the wishes of another is not merely restrictive or indicative of one gender; the issue is truly genderless.)

As in the poem, it is possible for some people to choose love without personal freedom, whether from a mistaken idea of moral or religious imperatives, a sense of honor which considers mistakes irretrievable, or from a predilection to constrictingly safe structure. Once that sort of love is chosen, it is static; to add freedom to a love not built on it may destroy the love or the life that it is predicated on. (In my case it did not; a long push for freedom within existing love ended with freedom for both lovers and a love intact. I am very blessed, and I realize the improbability of such a beneficial outcome) However, if freedom is maintained as a priority, love can enter and coexist peaceably with it.

I do not know how the total openness and vulnerability that I consider a hallmark of a great love can coexist within a hierarchy or authority structure, even a hierarchy of a generally theoretical and meta-practiced sort. I am far more comfortable sharing my innermost self with someone who does not consider themselves responsible for my orthodoxy or orthopraxy. My beloved husband is supportive of me, validating of my work and my dreams, (indeed he dreams them with me) and this, I hope, is mutual.
We are simply the best of friends, sharing and growing and moving on together.

My heart hurts, sometimes, when I see a dear friend or two in a love that binds and pulls down and squelches good things. I wish that they were free to choose their love, but they do not choose to have that choice. I may disagree with their determination to shoulder on, however I cannot but respect and admire the strength required to know that they are not free but choose to remain in their love nonetheless. They are doing something that I could not, and are thus stronger than I. I can only pray that they will make their choices with both eyes open, and not from fear of other losses or a much-mistaken idea of their sacred duty.

Every love is different, and I would not clone mine for the use of the general public, but I do wish that everyone I know and love could know the deep and fulfilling joy of a happy choice, whether that were single freedom or the freedom of a great love. Such love is a wonderful thing, and I am ever grateful for it. 

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