Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

 

Everlasting Love

By Geneviève Hone
True North Perspective

Geneviève Hone is a grandmother, family therapist and social worker.  With her husband, Julien Mercure (also a family therapist), she has co-authored three books on couples and family life. Her home on the web is www.hone-mercure.com/index_hone_en.php.

"So where are you off to?" asks my husband as he sees me heading for the door.

"To see an old wise man."

My husband chuckles. He knows that on my morning walks I like to conjure up people from my past, present and future life, especially wise people, be they old or young.

"Will you be back for lunch? I’d prepare something."

So I head off, walking stick in one hand, notebook in the other. A casual onlooker would see a respectable older lady walking the streets of her neighborhood, being careful not to slip as hips do not mend easily at her age. But I know that I am travelling to obtain advice from the old wise man on the subject of everlasting love.

It’s a long trip to the top of the barren mountain, but it’s astonishing how fast one may go when travelling inside of oneself. A street block later, I am already there. The old wise man is sitting on a ledge, legs dangling, a book on his lap. He looks up as he hears me approaching and by the expression on his face, I quickly sense that this may not be the best of times to request his attention. I know he hates to be interrupted when reading, but there must be something else to explain the scowl on his weather-beaten face.

Many people believe that old wise men know everything about Life. Old wise men, it is generally thought, are gentle, compassionate and always willing to greet their disciples with love, patience, understanding and subtle humour. They try to live up to that image of course because if they didn’t, nobody would climb the mountain to visit and they would lead a very solitary existence. After all, what’s the point of being old and wise if you can’t dispense that wisdom to souls in search of meaning? Wisdom needs an audience. Old wise men know that. But, old wise men, and old wise women for that matter, also have feelings. Like everybody else, they can be hurt, angry, sad, worried. They are not always calm and serene. They can have really bad days when they just don’t have the energy to dispense words of wisdom especially not to themselves. The old wise men that live alone on the top of a mountain sometimes miss the hustle and bustle of a busy city life, the noise, the smells, the sight of all those people on the streets going somewhere or nowhere, but always in a rush. Life as an old wise person is not always what it is cracked up to be.

I know that I should turn around and head back down, but now that I’m here, I decide to live dangerously and risk posing a question, well, actually two. “Can one achieve enduring Love? And if so, how does one go about it?” In response, the old wise man looks at me glaringly. I hastily add: “I’m asking on behalf of a friend.” The glaring look intensifies. “Yes, yes, of course. A friend wants to know. Right.” Well, in this case, it happens to be true. My friend Alberte wrote her latest TNP article precisely on that question and I’d like to help her further her thoughts.

I stand in silence, eyes piously downcast, preparing my soul to receive the words of wisdom that I will bring back with me to share with Alberte. Then, suddenly, I hear a loud “Thud”! I open my eyes. The old wise man has faded away and there is a book at my feet. For a moment, I am furious. I will not be treated in such a manner. The man has literally thrown a book at me. Totally unacceptable behavior. I take a deep breath to calm down somewhat and I remind myself that the fellow is old and possibly quite lonely. I remember the rumor that years ago the old wise man’s beloved lady ran off with a young guru pretexting that life at the top of the mountain damaged her lovely skin. Maybe the old wise man is not ready to deal with questions pertaining to everlasting love. I really should have respected his privacy.

Whatever. I pick up the book and start going down the mountain. Halfway down, I sit for a few moments to read. The story is about two people who had been the best of friends since French immersion kindergarten, where they learned a song about boarding a ship to travel to an island where they could play all day. “Nous irons jouer dans l’île. Dans l’î-î-le…” They used to sing it together on their way home from school. Growing up, they shared dreams of emptying their piggy banks, buying a boat and sailing together to the island where they would play all day. But reality intervened and… I’ll let you read the ending.

And always the best of friends, we grew together
To become the best of lovers
Still dreaming of the island where we would play.
 
The best of friends, and trying to be the best of parents,
We kept dreaming of the island where we would play
But the island seemed to float away from us
As we emptied our piggy banks, not for our boat,
But for real life obligations like student loans and mortgages.
Responsibilities, challenges, hardships, losses,
Took their toll on our friendship and our laughter
And the island where we would play
Disappeared from our dreams and our hearts,
Never to return, it seemed.
 
But one night when it was your turn to nurse our colicky child,
I heard you gently rocking her and softly singing
With your unsteady voice and funny accent
“Nous irons jouer dans l’île… Dans l’î-î-le…”
And right then I knew
With the certainty that only old love can bring
That we were already on the island
Because we were together, always the best of friends.

I make it back home safely. My husband greets me at the door: “I thought you’d like an omelet after your walk. It’ll be ready in a couple of minutes.”

“I’d like that very much”, I reply, “But first, answer me this: Can one achieve enduring Love? And if so, how does one go about it?”

He doesn’t hesitate. I can tell he’s figured out the answer a long while ago. “Well” he says, “I would say that love will last if you treat each other as you would your very best friend. Always.”

This just goes to say that not all old wise men live on the top of a barren mountain.

 

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