I’m reading The Bridge across forever. Books, just like people, some you ride along with for awhile, some you fall in love with the first time you meet and every meeting thereafter is a joy. And some, exactly like people, happen to you and life is like magic from then on.
Richard Bach felt familiar the first time round….like an old friend, like the kind of man I could fall in love with or like my own self. I could never tell. I still can’t but it doesn’t seem to matter anymore. That closeness, ideas and words that come alive for me…..the kind that just as with some special people, you could say
You make me even more me!
I read Illusions when I was 16 and it changed my life. I’ve said that before. But really, life was waiting to change, to become what it eventually did and the book was…how shall I put it…the gateway? My dictionary to a strange new world that spoke a language I’d never heard. The world of freedom of thought.
I read Bridge a year or two later. Premature, was it? There is no such a thing as something that should not have happened…is a dictum I hold true and dear. It seemed like a fantastical, magical concept then. A few years later, once again we met and under the joint influence of the book and the headiness of that age, I pronounced it
The most beautiful love story I’ve ever read
I gave him the book to read. He never got around to reading it and I didn’t persist. Perhaps I was hoping he’d see in the book what I was trying to tell him, that he never seemed to hear in my words. When we broke up, I didn’t remind him of it, though I thought our relationship might have been different, had he read it.At work, while shopping, in arguments I’m aggressive, pushy even. But in things that really matter, I’m tentative, subtle and almost not-there. Some things in life are just too big, too awesome, too important to meddle with by adding a touch of yourself to them. All it feels like you must do, is stand by and watch life unravel itself.
For a long time I associated the sheer power, the sunlight-blinding brilliance of the time that followed with the love I had for one person. But now it occurs to me that what I was experiencing wasn’t just the headiness of love, it was the magic of life itself. I was after all 20, with the world cliche-like ahead of me….so many choices, so many unformed dreams, so many things to look forward to, so much to fear, so much to gain and so much to lose. Life hit me in full force and I was swept away in the current in the years that followed. I had fallen in love with life.
The Bridge is a story of a man searching for love, finding a whole lot of other things and deciding to settle for those instead. Almost. There’s also commitment-phobia, possessiveness, romance, sex, marriage, joy, sorrow and a paraphernalia of other things. Every time I feel my faith in love waver I return to this book, consciously or not. Even the strongest religions need symbols and words and evangelists to keep people true to them. I guess the only religion that I do have – even have had – is in love, respect and freedom.
Strange then, I’ve been an atheist from the world’s religions and my own for interim periods. I’ve called love, a dangerous four-letter word and meant it. It hurts. It fortifies and massacres. It nourishes and also poisons. I’m getting lost in a torrent of words again and losing sight of ideas.
What I realised is that love really does make life worth living. Its so painful sometimes its excruciating. Like beauty so beautiful, music so unbearably sweet, pleasure so unimaginably delicious you want to die, begging for it to stop. But when it does…my atheist self lived in a world without meaning…..life, like a reverse prism turning all the bright colours into a dull monotone. I suppose atheism was necessary for belief to be strengthened over again.
At one point of time Richard and Leslie seemed like fairy-tale characters to me and I read the book, story-like, with the curious impatience of an unconnected observer. Once I saw the men I loved in Richard and sympathised with Leslie. This time I saw myself in Richard and empathized with him. And then turned around, in Richard’s skin found myself standing next to the men I’ve known closely. Hello there….don’t we know each other? I hated you once, I was so scared of how you were hurting me. How strange that we should be as close as family, closer, the same person nearly!
Friends say I’ve turned cynical, not being able to believe any man long enough to make the commitment of marriage with him. People also tell me that the institution of marriage is dying out. But think….if I hold the concept dear enough to want to keep it untarnished….I’m so cautious to the point of being scared of sullying what I hold sacred. I never want to be the one saying, as a friend did, days before her wedding….
I had to marry SOMEBODY. He’ll do.
What happened to being special? What about the joy that one other human being can give you? What about the sheer emotion of loving and being loved? I believe the only way to love is deliriously, desperately, uninhibitedly, irrationally. Yes, I believe it again.
2000 was the year I fell in love and OD’d on it.
2007. I’m in love again. With life.