To Love or Not to Love

Written by on August 6, 2012 in Cool Stuff and Reviews - 9 Comments

Recently I watched an unbelievable film, called The Fountain, that made me completely aware of how painful love can be when it is real and, especially, when it is for someone whose time is limited.

According to WikipediaThe Fountain “is a 2006 American romantic drama film, which blends elements of fantasy, history, religion, and science fiction. It is directed by Darren Aronofsky, and stars Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. The film comprises three storylines where Jackman and Weisz play different sets of characters: a modern-day scientist and his cancer-stricken wife, a conquistador and his queen, and a space traveler in the future who hallucinates his lost love. The storylines—interwoven with use of match cuts and recurring visual motifs—reflect the themes of love and mortality.”

In this film, the characters are so deeply intertwined in love and the questions of mortality that we easily go the distance with them, feeling their search for stopping death as death is closest to gripping them or those around them.

To love so strongly that it makes you raw and weak is frightening. Yet it is through the sadness of this kind of love that we feel the most alive in our limited mortality.

Death comes to all of us, most of us unaware of when our time will come. But it is in losing those we love that we feel the most aware of life.

To love or not to love? That is the question:

It takes a special movie to question our ideas about humanity, mortality, and, above all, our ability to love. I have for some time already began running circles around the idea of true love. In fact my blog entries for this month and the month before (and maybe the one after) will all cover the idea of love. But, for the purpose of focusing on this film, The Fountain, I will narrow my thoughts to what is covered in the film, without giving too much away to those who have yet to watch it.

Though The Fountain covers so much more than just the question of love – including, and so importantly, the question of mortality and the quest for eternal life and a cure for those diseases that steal life away – I will focus on the way it peeks into the depth of love. I hope, for those who have already watched the film, that I can do it justice with my own interpretation.

In the movie, we watch the main characters, a scientist and his beloved wife, a writer who is stricken with a brain tumor that he is desperately trying to find a cure for, bound by such a deep love that it is palpable. We watch the couple in their current lives, with him desperately looking to save her, but always still a step away. And we watch them again in a futuristic reality where he hallucinates her presence, so deeply rooted within himself; and again in the past of a book she wrote but could not finish as she is his queen and he her devoted Conquistador desperately searching for the Tree of Life to save her and to unite them in immortality forever.

As one watches, one can feel always that desperate pull of the kind of love we discover so rarely these days in the course of our busy daily realities. The love is so real it hurts from within to feel it. The Scientist desperate to save his wife, but always one step behind, losing her in the moments he needs her most. The wife, so close to the other world already that she begins to accept her leaving without fear. In every moment of this film, there is that sensation of the desperate sadness of such love, its timelessness bound within its painfulness. Do we dare love so much that it hurts us to do so?

To love truly and completely, we must love selflessly. We must love in a way that we wish only happiness and an end to suffering to the object of our love. But to love like this means to be able to let them go if they need to go. It means giving them the freedom they need to leave us, often when we wish to hold onto them the most. To love completely, we must be willing to sacrifice our own needs and desires for the needs and desires of the object of our love. We must be willing to give our own happiness up for their happiness. The conundrum is that when we love someone the most, they become, for that period of time, the object of all of our emotions. With just a look or a word they can set our heart soaring or cause us to feel unhappiness and shame. At that pivotal point of love, we want every moment to be filled with the one we love and every other moment that cannot include them to disappear. So how then could we at the same time give the one we love that freedom and selfless love that he or she may need? How can we let them leave us, maybe to death or, even worse, to the arms of another, when all we desire is to fill our life’s energy with theirs?

That is the conundrum of love. And that is why in these busy days of rushing and bills to pay and chores to be done and children to look after and dinners to cook and work to be taken care of and business deals to close and etc etc etc, we rarely find the time to allow true love into our hearts. As much as we crave to be loved in this kind of way, we struggle to give this kind of love. How can we when it may, inevitably, break our hearts to give it? Instead, we ignore our inner longing to feel and rush about covering it with mountains of little things that keep us busy but stop us from truly living or feeling anything at all.

True love can hurt more than any physical pain that one can imagine because its pain cuts right down to the core of our soul, which is so much deeper than just the pain our body can feel. But it brings happiness and fulfillment in a way that no drug or sustenance or material good can ever manage to bring. True love is like the ever-filling cup of life in its beauty. There is nothing more real or more distant. In its most unfortunate, it can be like running towards an object that keeps fading before we can touch it, or like the cure to a terrible disease just a minute too far away to save the one we love, as in The Fountain. But in its most wonderful, it can be our life’s sustenance. In either form, it is the thing that keeps our internal clocks ticking towards the moments of life.

Many consider true love an ephemeral object that can only break us and so they run from it out of fear. But never to love fully is never to live fully. “The Fountain is about a love that transcends time and death,” a friend of mine who is a big devotee of the film told me. It is a love that we can only all hope for as few will have the opportunity to uncover it. To guard our hearts from something that can break us open is like living without fire because it has the ability to burn us. It would be a cold life and it is a cold way of being. I, for one, have come to the realization that sometimes even the pain of love is worth the life that love gives. Love brings youth. It makes our hearts young again in its joy and purity. True love is the immortality we all crave. We remain forever in the hearts of those who truly love us when we touch them. We burn with a candle so bright that time stops between us.

To love or not to love: that is the question. Only you can decide the answer for yourself. But if it is fear that stops us from opening our hearts, then just imagine how much further back humanity would have been if every inventor and creator, if every philosopher and discoverer, if every astronaut and every scientist, had stopped reaching for that goal ahead of them just because they allowed their fear to stop them.


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9 Comments on "To Love or Not to Love"

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