The Vastness is Bearable Only Through Love

On Valentines Day a friend posted the following on Facebook:

“For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.”(Carl Sagan)

It took my breath away. Not because it is another quote on the importance of love–but because it is a quote by a scientist/philosopher who seeks to know, and yet understands that we are utterly meaningless. Our entire lives are being lived out on a fraction of the universe so tiny that frankly, we should be afraid. We should cling to each other and understand that at any point, anything at all could wipe us away. We spend our existence running around as though everything we are doing is so important, in spite of–or maybe to distract ourselves from–the ridiculous vastness of the universe, and our absolute inability to have any impact on it whatsoever. The vastness is terrifying. The vastness is overwhelming. The quote states that it is bearable only through love, and that touched me.

I realized, though, in reading it again and again, that I do not believe that to be the case–not for me. I am envious of those who can say that love is what makes the world go round, or all you need is love, or even, that the vastness of the universe is only bearable through our ability to hold onto each other as tight as we can. But. . .I’m not feeling it. I feel a desire to feel it. I want to live for my connections to others. I want to have so much love for the people around me that it fills me up and erases my ability to truly be concerned with anything else. I want to fall asleep at night thanking the randomness of the universe for bringing  my family (related and chosen) into my life. And yet. . .I just do not think this this way.

Love is responsibility.

Love is pain.

Love is waking up every half an hour through the night because a tiny person is calling for you and you can’t let them cry.

Love is picking up the phone and calling your mom even though talking to her breaks your heart.

It is making compromises in your marriage that you would have never thought possible.

Love is bending over wracked with sobs at someone’s cruel words or inability to understand.

Love is the dull ache that will always remain with the memory of the one that got away.

Love is sitting by someone’s beside and knowing they are gone and that there isn’t anything you can do about it.

Love…according to me…isn’t what makes this vastness bearable. It’s what makes it unbearable. How can we accept our helplessness, our total inability to control anything, the absolute chaos around us, when in the midst of all of this, is someone we love?


Many loves.

Does it make life more bearable, or simply add to the pain?

2 Comments on “The Vastness is Bearable Only Through Love”

  1. At the risk of sounding like a Buddhist broken record, it’s not the love, it’s the attachment. It’s the clinging and the grasping. It is not that the “vastness of the universe is only bearable through our ability to hold onto each other as tight as we can”, it is that the vastness of the universe is only bearable through our ability to let go and just love — only love. Not to cling, not to own, not to control, not to hold at all, but to love. To love our enemies and our lovers the same. To see everyone as our teacher, and with open eyes of compassion and non-judgement.

    If you look through this lens, we are all polyamorists.

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