Friday, March 28, 2014

Your Breath Near Mine

At times, when we need to know something about perfection, know this, the movement of your breath near mine might do, or the beating of our hearts. 

       “Please send me your last pair of shoes, worn out with dancing as you mentioned in your letter, so that I might have something to press against my heart.”- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    This quote always makes me tear up, because I believe it captures the end of a love story. I'm not sure what it actually references, and today I attempted a vigorous google search (on behalf of this blog) to no avail. For this, I am somewhat grateful, as the quote is preserved in my mind. 
     At the end of a love story, if it is good, true, real, and nurturing, that is exactly what will have happened - you will have given each other so many moments to celebrate, surely your shoes will be worn out by dancing. And is there a better memory of someone than to be able to think, "We did it all. We lived it all. We experienced everything this earth had to offer, with each other." Yes, the worn soles of your shoes can reflect a celebrated soul, and that's why I cherish this quote, it has given me profound imagery that only great writers can bring forth. 
      Goethe is rumored to have fallen deeply in love with the Polish composer Maria Agata Szymanowska, though their relationship never came to much formally. It reminded me of a similar patron/artist situation that amounted to much more. 
      The famous Russian composer, Tchaikovsky, was supported for thirteen years by Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck. Their relationship is documented through the exchange of over a thousand letters. Von Meck was a professed misogamist and Tchaikovsky a closeted homosexual, so the love they spoke of was entirely spiritual. Yet, there was passionate love exchanged in the letters, evolving into one of the most documented epistolary friendships of all time. 
     Their friendship ended with a letter, and there are various viewpoints as to the magnitude of that friendship in both of their lives. Her final letter said she could no longer support him financially (she claimed her eleven living children used up much of the estate money). She ends the letter with the words "remember me sometimes."
       His final letter back ends as follows: "Without exaggeration I can say that I did not forget you and will never forget for a single minute, because when I think about myself, my thoughts always and inevitably run to you." 
       And that's exactly how it is with love, your thoughts effortlessly included the person you love. As Hafiz says, it becomes the "beating of our hearts" that make for a love story in which you can write: “Please send me your last pair of shoes, worn out with that I might have something to press against my heart" (Goethe). 

                                                           Symphony No. 4 in F minor 
"Dedicated to my best friend"
Tchaikovsky's dedication to von Meck 

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