I had once read in a book by George MacDonald the following words: “when a youth and a maiden look too deep into each other’s eyes, a longing seizes and possesses them; but instead of drawing nearer to each other, they wander away, each alone, into solitary places, and die of desire.” A year ago I would not have known what that meant. But now I do.
Last week, I drove the Girl with the Curly Hair to the airport. She asked me, what time is it now? Ten till twelve. And now? It is still ten till twelve. The airport was always empty at this particular time of day. I said that I wished her the best of luck, and she said thanks, you too. But I didn’t mean it. I knew that time forbade that I stare too long (for time pays no heed to urgency) so I turned away. And that was how it ended.
The poets teach us that when a man and a woman in love gaze at each other, a lovely harmony is stirred, and it draws them, closer and closer together, until the lips caress. But you see it is not always. One must be careful not to gaze too deeply. To look into someone’s eyes is to embark on no small journey. You must wander through forests of memory, cross seas of abandonment, ascend stairways of excellence and desire, and, atop some remote mountain, place your glowing finger on the still glass pool your find there. The film is disturbed with ripples that, in spite of your trespass, sparkle like galaxies with all the intricacy of a fingerprint. At last, you say, I have penetrated life within life. Have you now found the answer? Is this what it means to know someone?
Alas, I am here to tell you the answer is no. For now I see that I had made the fatal mistake: I had looked too deep. I had, in my careless passion, broken through some forbidden frontier, and instead of falling in love, fell into inconsolable longing. Only after this frontier is crossed does a man realize that he is truly alone, and that not even human love can grant him his deepest desires. One look draws the youth and the maiden together, but a look that travels beyond this, and touches the sacred pool of life within life, turns them away. When our eyes interlocked in the airport that day, it contained a certain quality of desire I could only find in her eyes alone and yet her eyes alone could not fulfill it. And so I turned away, down a vacant road, damned into the deep of profound dissatisfaction.