Let Him Go
There is an ancient Zen saying that when life gets too much just ‘Chop wood, Carry water.’ Skip back to the basics and that is what I and Sam decided to do that summer. After one year in the push and shove of the big city, we had reached our limit. I could not bear being lost in the city’s cruel, metallic allure watching on at the endless souls scraping across concrete pavements. Sam and I grew up in the sanctity of the country, the kind of lands which had once given slow birth to the throbbing cities of the world. It was there in the country that we met and fell into that sickly sweet passion we label love. That poisonous growth of need and dependence, that since our helpless infancy is of no use to us; something that after the glorious rush of passions causes so much suffering in its downfall.
Even in our countryside town we had been entangled in so much human complication. As two free spirits even moving to the city had felt like entering a new set of prebuilt boxes. So after our separation in two distant city giants we set off together. With a bag each and a tent between us we did what we always had done when it felt like the world was closing in on us. We set off on our bikes on an open unfixed path with no destination in mind, only the idea of more space in our heads as we glided along with fresh purpose. No strings, no masked friends or enemies, just us.
As we cycled along, the trees rushing past, retreating into the distance, all of my troubles and anxieties seemed to vanish further and further from my mind as we left the roads behind and everything with it. As each timeless second passed the sensations of the wind flowed over my face and body, it felt purifying as my legs pushed the pedals and minutes turned to hours. Each time I sank into my body’s rhythm, the beauty of the landscape cradling my flight, Sam would shout my name and as I saw his face check mine and smile that brilliant smile I felt like this tunnel of the world and our existence was truly ours. A new world unpolluted by the wishes of others and gloriously ours to breathe in. Yet everything was nearly beyond us, nearly in our reach and we were simply specs of fleeting dust lying briefly upon it. Skimming across the infinite surface of existence and trying to call a piece of it ours to hold and call our own.
In the evenings we lay in each other’s forms suspended in the hammock, our pocket of intimacy hidden away in a carpet of grass and surrounded benevolently by the shelter of gentle trees. We lay there with our open eyes gazing as the mind would at a dream up at the branches cradling us. As we gazed up at the stars through the comfort of our small patch of land I felt myself sink into him. I knew in those nights a part of me would be his forever and his mine for eternity. Little did we know then how these things change. Once lost in the feeling of being separate we would in fateful moments forget that feeling of utter honey dewed oneness, of being more than a single entity.
We spent strings of pleasurable days cycling past open fields and blending in with the lives of the people in the seaside town where we sought sanctuary. One day spent sitting on the old docks which opened out into the rough beauty of the English sea. Another day spent exploring the hills where we marked a tree with our names alongside those of other lovers from times lost or kept in space.
After the blissful weeks we departed to a new place. I struggled up the hill and the purity of our travelling labours was cut through like a knife as my bike shattered under the force of my feet. I fell onto the hard road, back to the world I had been trying to skim over playfully. Sam retreated into the distance over the hill and I was left alone, abandoned, my freedom clipped, my cries falling on deaf ears. He was slipping away and I looked at my bike lying broken on the ground, I could see my dreams crumbling and the lines I had carefully drawn of my world were melting away.
Sam found me down the lane sitting under a tree. He sat next to me and I looked into his eyes as his searched mine, and a wave of melancholy crept over me. It was so painful, loving so fiercely that our fear of losing each other hung over us like a grey cloud. I saw it was all an elaborate show, not to enhance our lives, but to try and cage our experiences. We were trying to clothe our joys of each precious moment in a veil of perception losing part of the essence. As we sat beside each other in the summer afternoon breeze we felt our love shift, and as our hearts changed in front of us they also urged us not to lose faith but to admire love’s inchoate beauty.
I realised I could not translate his world without destroying mine. I could not understand his without reading it as I do my own. As we were to find out, the harder you try to hold on to anything in this world, the more rapidly it will slip through your fingers. A Zen poet once wrote, “I accept every sound and sight that’s offered, the more detached, the more I hear and see”. It took time for me to let go of that attachment, to let our love go. Now I find the less I hold on to the more I learn what it is to be free.