Opposition

In reading this story, some may seek to develop generalizations or validate prior opinions regarding the actors that stood in the way of the consummation of the relationship I will describe. We oppose that. In part, it is because love has succeeded in making us whole for every loss we have suffered. Mostly, though, it is because we find ourselves in sympathy with the desire of people to love themselves and those they consider their associates. The world can be a frightening place. Our desire is to recognize and validate love where it occurs.

Why would anybody have opposed us? There are reasons, and there are causes. Reasons are typically linked to tactics, and frequently are less than charitable. Causes are deeper, and we have found often reflect far better on human nature. I recognize two kinds of causes, which are best appreciated anecdotally.

When I was in college, I discovered two transcendent pieces of music: Brahm's First Piano Concerto, rendered with enormous romantic force by Garrick Ohlsen, and Beethoven's Ninth, performed by the LA Philharmonic under the direction of Carla Maria Giulini. They were in LP format, and in my peripatetic wanderings, I lost the means to enjoy them, and eventually surrendered the recordings themselves.

Following my awakening with Jewel, I attempted to reconstruct my collection of classical recordings. I could not find the original recordings on DVD, but came across two close substitutes. I had switched careers, and spent a fair amount of my time doing research at a local bookstore. I frequently had one of the two recordings playing on my Walkman while I was reading, and used them as a tool to generate personal energy.

As in college, I did not understand the extent to which my enjoyment was participatory. I would sit or lie perfectly still, and sparks of energy would run up and down my arms, legs, back and all over my head. I thought that this was a response to the excitement of the music. I realize now that it was a side-effect of people "tuning in and turning on".

At a certain point, it became clear to me that I was being damped while I was listening. I therefore began to explore avenues for working around the barriers that where being set around me. One day, I imagined projections through water and earth. This gave me a surprising rootedness. Having engaged the problem of expanding my personality, I idly thought to see how far I could reach. I eventually worked my way around half the globe. At that point, I felt Jewel nearby, and issued the laconic challenge: "So: where's your half?" It was a measure of her art that she immediately closed the sphere.

This became a practice of ours, to use music to close the world, and to push love at it.

Why was this a problem? Well, if you were a leader of an embattled community, what would you think about somebody trying to dissolve the barriers that held your community together? Just to make the magnitude of the problem explicit, let's make a partial enumeration of "embattled communities": women, men, racial minorities, Jews, Catholics, Americans post-9/11, Muslims post-9/11, Francophone, a member of a developing nation, an industrialist, conservationists… Wait - maybe it would be easier to enumerate exclusions.

Pause. Silence. Anybody?

Barriers are intended most often to protect people, not to hem them in. Jewel and I didn't mean to, but we alarmed people, among them people whose presumptions of good will had been horrifically betrayed in the 20th century. "Loose cannons" may have been an epithet that fit.

As matters eventually resolved themselves, we found a role as healers.

The second class of opposition arose from individuals that lost themselves in their love for us. Many of them concluded that Jewel and I had succeeding in creating insuperable barriers to our union. The chorus was "You can't be with him/her. I love you. Why not love me?" But every time we were separated, we diminished. On the occasion of one separation, I was offered that her lover "did not realize how much of her you were." In response of that loss, the barriers would come down, and we would fall together again in our dreaming.

Jewel was deeply concerned about my loneliness. We had not come to appreciate the manipulative power of "use it or lose it." I tried to find others, but every foray led back to her. With others we were teachers. It was only in each other that we found the innocence of play, and the freedom of honesty.

So, without intending to, we hurt a number of people. We challenged their self-respect, and we engaged them in relationships that ultimately came to define their identities - identities threatened by the possibility of our joining. We've become better at managing such associations, but now accept responsibility for the resistance that our intimates generated against our impulse to union.

When I first began to write this section, the geopolitical and social context of our struggle loomed large in my mind. Jewel reminded me that our story is a personal story. A story of romance between a man and a woman, and the joy they found in surrendering themselves to the purposes of love.

Please honor our dreams by reading it that way.