The Yoruba have a saying: ‘the world is our market, heaven is home’. Till I met you I was quite happy to accept this as a given. It meant that one day I would eventually set up home with all those whose words, ideas and life have become my own: Nietzsche, Fanon, Hendrix, Bessie Head, Coltrane and Baldwin.
However, with you I don’t have to wait till the end of existence to reach home. I feel I am already home. Your mind is as searching and delicate as Nietzsche and Fanon put together. Your vulnerability as strengthening as Baldwin. Your passion as irrepressible as Hendrix. Your anger as seductive and alluring as Nina. Your sense of wonderment just like Ryokan looking into the stars. Your smile, assuring, confident and serious just like Malcolm.
Home is not a geographical location of here or there, home is the space in your body and mind that you have allowed me to be a part of.
The very first time we spoke, I had decided that I wanted you to be my friend. In imperfect balance, you combined all that I ever wanted in a lover. I always got excited when I meet a person whose capacity for intellectual and ethical reasoning matched my own.
I know that we have a lifetime ahead of us to allow all the contradictions in our thoughts to unfold and transform. I never thought we would be here together committing ourselves to each other. But I have plantain, Nietzsche, Fanon, Merleau-Ponty and Deirdre Charles to thank for standing here today.
I love you beyond the words that are passing through us now. I love you beyond myself. But I love you most of all because I love myself and I see us spending our lifetime and endless ages tracing the imperfection of love as we grow into becoming more than…
I will have to allow the poet Rumi the final word:
Love is the way messengers from the mystery tell us things.
Love is the mother.
We are her sons and daughters
She shines inside us,
visible – invisible, as we trust
or lose trust, or feel it start to grow again
You are the master alchemist
Through your loving
existence and non-existence merge
All opposites unite.
All that is profane
becomes sacred again.
A philosopher once said there are two types of love – the love of self and love for the other. He also said these two types of love contradict each other. I thank him for the distinction, but I think he’s wrong – in fact, both loves can intertwine and strengthen each other, if we let them. To love the other, one must always love oneself in advance. And yet to love oneself, one needs love from the other…
We met 10 years ago in the library at Warwick – your hair-for-8-heads standing up. Something communicated itself to me in an instant – an intake of breath, a flash of concealed possibility.
The first time we really spoke, our thoughts flew out and danced with each other in the space between us. Nietzsche at first, then Merleau-Ponty, then Jimmy B and Frantz and Rilke and Ryokan and all the rest of the heavenly beings who’ve walked and danced before us, guiding the way.
Then one day, we went for a walk along the canal. It was spring. You were beginning to fall in love with me. Two butterflies danced round each other by the bank, writing a helix of desire into the air. We both watched and smiled, as the spiralling animal spirits radiated their spell over us.
After over 6 years of dancing and laughing and loving together, I’ve started to become all that I want to be. You have led me beyond my limits, transcending myself to return to myself, and to us. And our world has grown larger with people and love and potentiality.
So I give thanks to us, and to all that we have become and will become.
But I leave my last words to the poet Rilke, as the hymn that will guide the work of love ahead:
For this is wrong, if anything is wrong:
not to enlarge the freedom of a love
with all the inner freedom one can summon.
We need, in love, to practice only this:
letting each other go. For holding on
comes easily; we do not need to learn it.