It’s odd that I’ve never really put this idea together before, but maybe the dominant discourses of our society prevent clarity of thought. You get mixed messages from popular culture and it can sometimes be difficult to cut through the fog…
Anyway, I’ve developed some initial reflections on the relationship between love and time, and I think the connection is more visceral, and less romantic, than many would probably believe. Or at least want to believe. We think of love as something of a boon when it’s fresh — it’s what we can never get enough of, it’s what we wish would last forever. Time literally stops when we are deep in the throes of passion. This is the real drug. We like to fixate on the dynamics of the relationship, our happiness with our partner, chemistry, compatibility, whatever. But these are just “vital lies”, distortions of our consciousness we retreat to because of our intense, instinctual and ingrained fear of time.
And believe me, we fear time. Consumer culture and the modern economy would have you believe we never have enough time. And this is, to some extent, true. If we measure our use of time in strictly economic or productive terms — tasks completed, money made, etc…But this, of course, doesn’t capture the essence of time as it’s actually lived. In other words, time looms large in our lives, and loneliness and boredom are part of many modern experiences. And it would seem that, generally, this sense only grows larger as we age. Love is a palliative to this sense — it helps us, quite literally, pass the time.
To imagine the unconscious, essentially pre-human element of love as it relates to time I think of our ancestors — nomadic tribes of creatures relying on their minimal technological and strategic advantages, huddled up against the elements in times of trial, seeking the comfort and warmth of others of their kind, aware of but unable to really describe the eon spanning vastness of the world around them, and aware of but unable to comprehend how they were captured in such a vortex of fate and experience — what we think we have come to know (and thus somehow control?) as time.
Of course, the same instincts are still there now. We are driven to find others of our kind, to be lost in their embrace, to share the pleasure of pure experience together. Alone, we are rarely the same.
We can draw a series of interesting conclusions from some of these initial assumptions. Those who are always “busy”, never able to settle down and just enjoy the company of another person, are also in a way incapable of love. They have literally created a relationship with time — a desire to control it — that makes love impossible. All the superficial justifications aside, this is the essence of these types. Of course, the opposite, those who move from one passionate relationship to another — well, time controls them. They have relinquished that struggle in favor of other pursuits…
This connection between love and time — of being driven to seek love because of our essential fear of time (its very enormity!) — culminates, of course, in reproduction. The product of love (ideally…) gives rise to something with which we feel we can do battle with time. Our offspring are thus thrown into this struggle with us, and sometimes they find the task to be onerous, turning on those who gave them such a gift as to know time…And love.