[Love Doesn't Understand Anything]
One kiss is not a marriage; it's not even going steady: a lesson M_ taught me well enough. In my exaltation at having kissed, and in the full rush of confirmation it brought, I mentioned to someone that M_ was "my girl friend." Ah, foolish possessiveness. This was relayed to M_ and shortly thereafter I received a note stating that, no, she wasn't "my girl." My heart fell down the stairs like a brittle chunk of rock. I was not only disappointed and hurt at this loss, I was mortified and embarrassed that I had misunderstood our relationship. All that talk--a year and a half of talk--about relationships, and still I did not know what was what. Slowly I became aware of several lessons about life:
(1) that each new kind of qualitatively different experience does not provide the basis for its own understanding; rather,
(2) each new experience only provides the basis for reaching toward another new experience, which, however,
(3) cannot be predicted, nor [or] understood in itself.
(4) Talk about experience does not, in itself, bring understanding; in fact,
(5) it is frequently difficult to know when understanding is achieved (that is to say, life is obscure).
(6) Since experience that one is having "now" is, at some fundamental level, inexplicable, when we say we "understand" something, what we understand is usually (always) something we are not experiencing.
(7) Or, "understanding" refers to words and verbal propositions, and life is always larger and richer than words, hence, always surpasses understanding.
Therefore, one does not ever fully understand one's own experience. What does one understand?--the "experience" of others, and objects. I understand how to start my car, how to shop at a supermarket; I understand how my wife got upset; I understand how the Venturi principle applies to sprinkler systems.
Doesn't this imply that we could "understand ourself" by adopting the perspective and knowledge others have of us? To an extent: we obtain more understanding--or rather, a kind of understanding of ourself otherwise closed to us. But this is not complete or profound understanding. Because this other-perspective merely enters into our consciousness (as well as our unconscious behaviorial [behavioral] patterns) and thereby becomes part of the experience of the moment which we can't completely understand and which pushes us toward another experience.
This is not too much philosophical knowledge to have obtained from blesséd M_. In fact, usually such knowledge is obtained from affairs of the heart, because love is the most unpredictable kind of experience, and the kind [with the] most potential for growth, and--therefore--a paradigm for experience in general.
How soon came severance, following the kiss, I don't recall. I do recall clearly warm memories of hand-holding and walking. I remember M_'s heavy winter coat, with its hood, which unfolded to lie [lay] like a short cape across her shoulders and upper-back. I recall her mittens (mittens!). I recall walking home after a basketball game--after the post-game record hop?--our hands warmly intertwined, the crystal clear New Hampshire night air, cold and billowing with our breath[s].
Blesséd was that moment. Blesséd was being fifteen and holding hands. Blesséd was this girl. Blesséd are these memories. Blesséd: and from this oceanic distance and time, from thirty-eight years looking back upon fifteen years old, apology for misunderstanding, M_, where-ever and whoever you now are.
Lessons in Love