I heard somebody make a statement the other day that completely distracted me from the rest of the conversation. I wanted to go somewhere and be alone and meditate on the words I had heard until I had fully digested them. This was the statement I heard that affected me deeply:
Love and possession are not the same thing.
I think I already knew that, but I wanted so much to just think about it deeply and focus my thoughts until I understood how it can be applied. I obviously thought about Goldfinch.
I wondered who voiced this kind of statement – surely some professed wise man had uttered this sentiment at some stage. I found several similar quotes from a variety of people I had never heard of. Here was the first:
I knew from the start that freedom was something important to Goldfinch. It was one of the first facets of his personality I noticed. I wrote about it very early on. It was something I was always mindful of. One of my first posts on this blog 30th April 2018 was entitled “Goldfinch” and I had written it about a month before because he thought he would be moving back to Australia in the spring of 2018 (as you know that turned out to be December 2018).
It is interesting to me that so early on I grasped his desire to be free and in my effort to make sense of it and come to terms with it, I wrote about it:
That was one of the reasons I started writing, because I had so many strong emotions that I didn’t want to voice to anyone else, but I wanted to get them out of my heart onto a page and to try to grapple with them.
The awareness that this magnificent person who had come into my life needed to be free was with me right up until the last moments. Rather than trying to tie him down, keep him in a cage, admire and adore him at my convenience, I gave all I could give to letting him fly away free, full of love. I fully understood what I was doing when I went along with him to Heathrow Airport and watched him check-in before flying away.
It’s still in my mind as I proceed forward with my life and my responsibilities in a way that will not take away freedom from my Goldfinch. I say “my” – and I feel entitled to say “my” although I don’t own him. But I do feel adjoined to him, even from 10,100 miles away. He is now a permanent part of my identity.
But I will be honest with you…there were times when I wanted to plead with him:
“Don’t go, please stay with me.
I need you. I can’t be without you.
I can’t let you go, because I will be lost without you.”
There are very occasional moments when I feel angry that he is so far away. Especially now. I am trying to put off being anxious about my future and just concentrate on the little raspberry of joy I am always mindful of. I love him. He has brought me tremendous joy. I want to love him and give to him. I can understand partly the reasons for wanting his freedom (but I don’t feel I should write about his personal history of past relationships) …and for some reason since then, he seems to cling to his freedom. That is a part of the man I love.
Then I saw another interesting quote about love and possession:
I suppose this resonates in me to a degree. Years ago I read the novel “Villette” by Charlotte Bronte. I was really struck by the words of Lucy Snowe who said: “I like to see flowers growing, but when they are gathered, they cease to please. I look on them as things rootless and perishable; their likeness to life makes me sad. I never offer flowers to those I love; I never wish to receive them from hands dear to me.”
I understand that sentiment of not wanting to take something away from it’s natural environment, just so you can have it in a convenient location for yourself to enjoy whenever you want to. That would only cause those flowers to fade and wilt more quickly.
I can’t take someone I love so much away from the environment where he is thriving, where he is happiest and healthiest, just to make things easier for me. Instead I am…or I should be brought joy from knowing he is where he should be.
So, supporting his decision and his desire to be back in Australia was my way of showing him my love, and my appreciation for all he has given to me. However… despite all I have said, all I have written, despite the depth of my love and my understanding that love is not about possession – I am allowed to say surely that sometimes I wish he was shackled to my side!
There is a beautiful passage in the scriptures. It’s not about romantic love at all. Its the devotion Ruth expressed to her mother-in-law Naomi, but her words are so powerful and emotive, they often come to mind when I think of how I feel about Goldfinch:
Do not plead with me to abandon you, to turn back from accompanying you;
for where you go I will go, and where you spend the night, I will spend the night.
Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.
That is my honest confession of how I feel. But there are two major reasons that hold me back. Firstly, the concerns over my head injuries and how much my family want me close-ish and how much I need my other family. And the second reason is simply that Goldfinch wants freedom and I love him – so that’s all that matters.