I first discovered Kent Nerburn’s “Falling in Love” (also excerpted as “On Love”), a chapter from his book Letters to My Son: A Father’s Wisdom on Manhood, Life and Love, way back in high school. Back then, it seems that the worst thing that can happen in the realm of love was realizing a crush doesn’t have a crush on me. Now in 2012, I look back yet again to this article’s simple but profound wisdom, as I know it can still teach me a thing or two about life and love. These are words that any one who has fallen in love should always remember and should never forget.
Falling in Love
It is a mystery why we fall in love.
You can analyze this mystery and look for reasons and causes, but you will never do anymore than take the life out of the experience.
Just as life itself is more than the sum of the bones and muscles and electrical impulses in the body, love is more than the sum of the interests and attractions and commonalities that two people share.
And just as life is a gift that comes and goes in its own time, so too, the coming of love must be taken as an unfathomable gift that cannot be questioned in its ways.
Sometimes, hopefully at least once in your life – the gift of love will come to you in full flower, and you will take hold of it and celebrate it in all inexpressible beauty. This is the dream we all share.
More often, it will come and take hold of you, celebrate you for a brief moment, then move on.
When this happens to young people, they too often try to grasp the love and hold it to them, refusing to see that it is gift that is freely given and a gift that just as freely, moves away. When they fall out of love, or the person they love feels the spirit of love leaving, they try desperately to reclaim the love that is lost rather than accepting the gift for what it was, then moving on.
They want answers where there are no answers. They want to know what is wrong in them that makes the other person no longer love them, or they try to get their lover to change, thinking that if some small things were different, love would bloom again. They blame their circumstances and say that if they go far away and start a new life together, their love will grow.They try anything to give meaning to what happened. But there is no meaning beyond the love itself, and until they accept its own mysterious ways, they live in a sea of misery.
You need to know this about love, and to accept it.
You need to treat what it brings you with kindness.
If you find yourself in love with someone who does not love you, be gentle with yourself. There is nothing wrong with you. Love just didn’t choose to rest in the other person’s heart.
If you find someone else in love with you and you don’t love her, feel honoured that love came and called at your door, but gently refuse the gift you cannot return. Do not take advantage, do not cause pain.
How you deal with love is how you deal with you, and all our hearts feel the same pains and joys, even if our lives and ways are different.
If you fall in love with another, and she falls in love with you, and then love chooses to leave, do not try to reclaim it or to assess blame. Let it go. There is a reason and there is a meaning. You will know in time.
Remember that you don’t choose love. Love chooses you. All you can really do is accept it for all its mystery when it comes into your life. Feel the way it fills you to overflowing, then reach out and give it away.
Give it back to the person who brought it alive in you. Give it to others who deem it poor in spirit. Give it to the world around you in anyway you can. This is where many lovers go wrong. Having been so long without love, they understand love only as a need. They see their hearts as empty places that will be filled by love, and they begin to look at love as something that flows to them rather than from them.
The first blush of new love is filled to overflowing, but as their love cools, they revert to seeing their love as a need. They cease to be someone who generates love and instead becomes someone who seeks love. They forget that the secret of love is that it is a gift, and that it can be made to grow only by giving it away.
Remember this, and keep it to your heart. Love has its own time, its own seasons, and its own reasons for coming and going. You cannot bribe it or coerce it, or reason it into staying. You can only embrace it when it arrives and give it away when it comes to you. But if it choose to leave from your heart or from the heart of your lover, there is nothing you can do and there is nothing you should do.
Love always has been and always will be a mystery.
Be glad that it came to live for a moment in your life.
If you keep your heart open, it will come again.