If you love somebody, set them free.
I don’t know if Sting had a situation like mine in mind when he wrote that, but it’s been ringing in my head all morning.
When I came out five years ago, relationship wasn’t on my mind at all. I had a few flings but once I got deeper into both Buddhism and writing, I just didn’t feel the need to be with anyone. I wasn’t being pretentious or fearful of commitment or anything like that. It was just that, for the first time in my life, I was happy and content with simply being me.
And I still am.
So when I met Miguel over here in India a few months ago, I wasn’t looking for a relationship. But when we talked that first time outside of Tibetan grammar class and discovered that we were both really, really into Buddhism, (Miguel was already planning to attend a three-year retreat in early 2013), we were both pretty smitten.
Here’s the thing, meeting a compatible partner is tough enough. Add the criteria of being gay, Tibetan Buddhist, sobriety minded and setting up your life to go into the traditional three-year retreat, and the pool of available men shrinks to about the size of a tea-cup. So when you find someone who fits that list, you have no choice but to stop and take a closer look.
After a few dates we only confirmed what we knew from the get-go. We really liked each other. And what’s more, we agreed that if we were going to go any further, there would be only one rule: that we would support each other in our practice. No matter what.
Unfortunately, I had to leave for the States after only three weeks. Visa stuff. So I made the call: I would just have to come back to India right away. The odds were against us but what the heck. This kind of thing almost never happens, right?
For two months we held our courtship by phone. About three weeks into it, Miguel found out that his three-year retreat was being cancelled. He was pretty heart-broken after spending years preparing himself, but he got over it quickly and began to search for another place to do it.
A few weeks ago, he found one. In America. Long after I had already bought my ticket back to India. And in order to make all the preparations to attend, he would have to leave earlier than expected…as in yesterday.
But I was happy for him and still am. I’m glad that the promise that we made to support each other wasn’t just words. After all, if it was me going into the retreat, how would I want him to react?
So yesterday morning, after twelve wonderful days with him, I watched him get into a taxi to Delhi. It was raining. I cried. No, not just cried. I full-on sobbed and the ache was heavy in my heart and lungs.
But it didn’t hurt like the love songs I used to like so much. It wasn’t some tragic romance coming to an unfair and undeserved end. You see, along with the pain and the sadness I felt light, too. I mean, look at my baby! How wonderful that someone would not only aspire to make such a huge commitment, but to actually put his foot forward and take the plunge.
As they say in Tibetan: Emaho! Amazing!
No. To do anything but let him go, freely and joyfully, with great wishes that he succeed, would only be the worst kind of selfishness.
So I let him go. And by letting go, I remembered the teachings. All things are impermanent, including relationships. Even the ones that might just be perfect.