Poem: On the Nature of Love

The night is black and the forest has no end;
a million people thread it in a million ways.
We have trysts to keep in the darkness, but where
or with whom — of that we are unaware.
But we have this faith — that a lifetime’s bliss
will appear any minute, with a smile upon its lips.
Scents, touches, sounds, snatches of songs
brush us, pass us, give us delightful shocks.
Then peradventure there’s a flash of lightning:
whomever I see that instant I fall in love with.
I call that person and cry: ‘This life is blest!
For your sake such miles have I traversed!
All those others who came close and moved off
in the darkness — I don’t know if they exist or not.

— Rabrindranath Tagore
(From Chaitali (1896),
Translated from Bengali

It is always interesting to get another culture’s view of love. But I cannot tell from this poem whether the person you fall in love with was predestined by fate or encountered by chance. Or whether there’s any difference at all.

If you believe, as I do, that two people can decide to love each other even after they transcend the temporary nature of their chemical attractions, then wouldn’t it be reasonable to believe in parallel universes in which I am making a good life with the woman I dated before I found Heidi? Or a universe in which I am living a good life with the woman I found after not having the good sense to stay with Heidi? Was my marriage to Heidi my destiny, or are we creating our destiny out of the raw material God sends our way?

I pray that, whichever parallel universe I perceive myself to be in, the grass is greenest there. It looks pretty green to me right now.

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