If you love someone....
...set them free. If they come back they're yours; if they don't they never were.
- Richard Bach
Of all the quotes about love that I have heard or read about, this particular quote is the one that I can relate to the most, striking a chord within my very being with its seeming poignancy and profound sense of irony.
set them free...
As if love was some form of cage...a prison from where one seeks deliverance from, like a curse of some sort, instead of the positive emotion of affection and devotion that it is supposed to be. And yet, it fits. Perfectly.
To be free from the bonds of love not shared or reciprocated...is a release sought by both giver and receiver of the emotion...probably more if you're the receiver.
To an individual who has not been tempered by years of experience, this quote is nothing if not counter-intuitive, contrary to the very passions of youth exalted in movies and books, encouraging one to fight for the one he or she loves. Such an ideal is admirable to be sure, but for the rest of us above, say the age of...30, life has shown that love is not often something one can literally fight for. Just the contrary, it may very well one the things that may need to be abandoned in the pursuit of other endeavors which one may consider more important...career, wealth, ambition, etc.
Personally I don't really believe that...and yet, in my relatively short period of existence, I have lived by this quote more often that I would care to. Whether one sets another free because of some ideal, or for something more pragmatic is a matter of opinion, depending on the person and his or her understanding of the circumstances...but no matter how complicated we try to interpret this saying...in the end its very simplicity is the one which enthralls us to its meaningful concept of love and sacrifice.
Most of us...though we may dare not admit it...are sentimental romantics.
And perhaps, we are drawn to the notion that giving up the one we love imbues us with a sense of satisfaction...that we are in control, that we are setting the terms, that we are willing to sacrifice our personal desires for the one we love most.
And that is indeed the case...if we are really sincere in our feelings for the other person.
It is not at all a pleasant prospect...the concept of releasing someone we adore if only to prove our love for them, and yet, it seems to happen all the time.
It is not at all easy to do, and is something one only considers when there are no other options. While it can be very satisfying, it leaves one with a very deep emotional burden, the knowledge that he or she was the one who actually let go. And sometimes, the burden can be heavier...much heavier than expected.
At the end of the day, despite all the rationalizations, despite the justifications, sometimes setting someone you love free is inevitable, and the prospect of losing someone we truly love, despite the pain associated with it, is just something that has to be done.
Of course there is light at the end of the tunnel. They may come back. Then again, they may not. As the saying goes though, if they don't, they never were. [yours to begin with]. And there is probably no point in feeling morose over losing someone who was never yours from the start.
That's all irrelevant though, if one is truly sincere with his or her feelings. What's important is that one is true to himself or herself...and to never miss the opportunity of sharing how one really feels to the person he or she adores.
Sometimes...that's all one can hope to do.