This question is based on a line in The Actual Dance:
“It didn’t take us very long to fall in love, though I wonder if two twenty year olds really understood what love means.”
It is a line I say over and over again as I rehearse and then perform. Each time I say it I secretly wonder in the back of my mind, “What does love really mean?
So let’s get one thing straight, real quick. I can answer the question “did two twenty year olds really understand what love meant.” No. At least those two twenty year olds, Susan and me, did not know. We knew what it meant to be attracted to each other, to want to kiss and do those sorts of things with each other. And I suspect we preferred our company to that of others. So we “fell in love” – an emotional “feeling.”
Fifty years after we met, and nearly 48 years after we got married, Susan and I do now have a much better understanding what love means. We will probably keep learning.
What I want to say today though is not just about the love between two people who have spent most of their lives together, but about love that exists and which forms the basis of human existence. Love is the existential connection with each other and the universe (God or whatever you believe to be the source of inner being.)
I wrote a poem shortly after I started performing The Actual Dance, called US. In it, I imagine that life exist in each of us as a form of the divine; an essence beyond the physical body. Love happens when our essence becomes entwined. And that love also happens when we allow ourselves to become fully aware and present with our own life force – that piece of the divine that exists within us.
Love really means then being present enough with each other and God to be part of their breath or being or essence.
I love how Martin Buber said it in his classic, “I and Thou.”
“When a man loves a woman so that her life is present in his own, the You of her eyes allows him to gaze into a ray of the eternal You.”(Touchtone Edition, 1996, p 154)
What The Actual Dance offers to me and I hope the audience is an understanding of the power of love – not the emotion or feeling – to lead us to the beauty and dignity in the most difficult journeys of our lives. And in some way, isn’t that the essence of the stories of this season -- Passover and Easter.