Transitive Relations(hips), or, a Mathematical Proof of Love
I had a mini-revelation yesterday while talking to a good and recent friend of mine. Let’s call her Midge. No, screw it, let’s just call her Maria, because that’s her name. Honesty really is the best policy. *Especially* when dealing in matters of the heart.
We were talking about — wait for it — love. Or should I say, Love. Or, should I say, LOVE. Yeah, that one. It was one of those BIG IDEA conversations that are so refreshing to have with a beautiful friend (or even a beautiful stranger) on a cool night in the Mission.
We were knee-deep in it, getting to that point in the conversation where you’re comfortable enough to share thoughts which you don’t normally allow to come to the surface. Maybe they’re embarassing, or maybe they’re just not fully baked, not ready to be set free in the unforgiving world of spoken reality. What if you are misunderstood? Can you even be misunderstood if you’re not sure what you’re saying?
I’ve been mulling over one such thought for a few weeks now. It made sense to me on an intuitive level, but I couldn’t come up with a satisfactory explanation for it. This was irksome to me. It was an irksome mulling, these past few weeks.
My conversation with Maria inspired me to finally decided to let this thought out into the wild. If there was some truth there, maybe she else would help me find it. If it was a load of crap, she would tell me. Survival of the fittest, if you will. Either way, I get closure.
The idea is this: every girl whom I have ever truly loved is, in some essential way, the same.
(Before I go any further: “true love”? What a highly loaded term, right? I really should try to define what I mean so this post doesn’t degenerate into sweet nothings and cliché. Instead of doing this, however, I offer the following two cop-outs, because I’m lazy, and seriously guys, defining love is beyond the scope of this post:
- I heard somewhere that true love is the soul’s recognition of its counterpoint in another.
- When you know, you know.
The rest, as they say, is left as an exercise for the reader. Haha. Just kidding. Fear not, I will return to the subject in a later post. For now, onwards and upwards.)
So: I had this feeling that every girl I’ve ever loved is the same. And the more girls I loved (no I’m not talking dozens here, just, you know, more than one), the more this feeling rang true. What does it mean, they’re all the same? Well obviously they don’t look the same. I mean I guess I did have a penchant for brunettes for a (long) while there, but, nope, I have successfully managed to fall in love with a blonde girl. There must be something else.
We can easily write off all the other immediately apparent characteristics: how their smile can light up the room, what they sound like when they’re about to cry, the way their hair feels right after a shower. It’s all different. No surprise there.
But what about the more essential elements of their being? Personality, say. Sense of humor. Intelligence. Values. Faith. You name it. More promising than superficial features, maybe, but still no dice. Sure there are some broad similarities at this level – I’ve never fallen in love with someone who can’t tell a good story, for example, or who doesn’t really like music – but that’s it. Not nearly enough to justify the extravagant-sounding claim that they’re all the same.
Well, how about this – out of all the 6 billion and counting people on our planet, they are the lucky (or not so lucky?) few that at one point or another, I was in love with. They undeniably have that in common. That’s pretty weak, I know. “All the girls I have loved are the same because they’re the ones I’ve loved.” Lame.
This is about where I was with Maria, explaining this idea of mine, retracing the various unsatisfying steps I had tried to justify my feeling. And then all of a sudden, something clicked:
When I am really in love with someone, a lot of things happen, to be sure. But one of the most fundamental is, I believe, a kind of identity shift. There comes a moment when I can’t imagine not ever having known this person, where that very thought seems laughable. I try to imagine myself “before”, and it just doesn’t make sense. The identity of the “we”, of the shared experience, becomes so rich and overpowers the identity of the solitary “I”. It’s not so much that my identity is shifting or becoming something different, but that our identities are two puzzle pieces, formerly milling about the vast puzzle board, and all of a sudden we’re placed next to each other, and – THWAP – we’re the same piece. WE are the same. J(ordy) == G(irl).
Now, this could just be me. Maybe I’m talking out of my ass, and this feeling doesn’t happen to other people, and who am I to talk to about love anyway, you want to talk about love, try being married for 25 years, you hear!?!
Fine. If that’s the way you feel, I got nothing. You should leave a comment though and explain it all to me, please. So I know for next time.
BUT: if you grant me that what I described is plausible, or if maybe you’ve even experienced something like it yourself, then my job is done. Easy. Don’t believe me yet?
Assume J(ordy) and two different girls, say K and L:
1. Assume J and K are in love: J == K
Some time later (or heck, maybe even at the same time – but that’s for a separate post),
2. Assume J == L
Ergo, K == L.
Ergo, all the people I have truly loved are the same.
Yep: it’s a mathematical law, applied to justify a feeling I had about love. Sounds absurd? Whatever. Out of all the things in this life that you can’t fuck with, seriously: you can’t fuck with math.
Note that this whole post revolves around the concept of romantic love. But that’s only because that’s as far as I’ve been able to personally take it in my life thus far. There are people far more powerful than I, who have the ability to truly love not just their romantic partners, or best friends, but acquaintances, strangers, enemies, all people. We call them “saints” or “holy people” or even “God”, depending on your religion: Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, Buddha, Swami Paramahansa Yogananda, Jesus. If anything makes me believe in some kind of ultimate unity or (I hesitate to use the word) “oneness” in the world, it’s this idea. All you need are a few people with a superhuman/divine/holy capacity for love, and the law of transitivity will take care of the rest.