So I'm searching through a file yesterday, and I find a snippet originally published in "The Vancouver Sun," on Friday, December 18, 2009, with the following partial sentence underlined. It's in reference to Ang Lee's 2005 motion picture "Brokeback Mountain": "...Heath Ledger's heartbreaking performance as [Ennis Del Mar] a young man who discovers love in an unlikely package [p. D4.]"
Of course, as we all know, the package is another man, Jack Twist, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. In the movie, Del Mar is married to a woman, Alma, and together they have a young daughter. We can only assume Del Mar loved Alma at some point in his life, which led to marrying her (the natural course of events for young men, we're told, is to fall in love with a young woman). But that may not be the case. Perhaps he discovered he never loved another human being until he met Twist, that summer of sheepherding up in the mountains of Wyoming.
Juxtapose that with a recent comment I received here on another post, from elevencats, in Estonia, including mention of a 2009 Brazilian film he recently watched called "From Beginning to End" (English translation). According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), it's about "two brothers [who] develop a very close relationship as they're growing up in an idyllic and happy family. When they are young adults their relationship becomes very intimate, romantic, and sexual."
Curious about the details of the movie, but having no access to it, I watched a few YouTube videos elevencats referred me to, and came away with, if not a complete understanding of what happens, at least an overview: Two half-brothers grow up extremely fond of each other during childhood--sleeping together, arms innocently around each other, the older later defending his younger brother to their father during an argument, as though they are something more than siblings, even then. Their bond becomes stronger as they grow older, which concerns the father, who tells their mother the two boys are abnormally close, emotionally and physically.
Finally, as young adults on their own, the two brothers share an apartment, and tentatively take their sibling relationship to the next level--moving their love for each other into physical intimacy. In effect, they become a gay couple, their lives lived together in that context.
This got me thinking. In light of the aforementioned line referring to "Brokeback Mountain," and the taboo subject of two half-brothers becoming adult lovers, the following questions played in my head: Do we have control over who we love, or does love direct us, giving us no choice but to follow? And is the course of love ever wrong to the extent it must end? (I hasten to add, this is not a discussion regarding heterosexual love, between two biologically-related people who have the physical ability to procreate. That's something else altogether, beyond the scope of this post.)
How many of us could imagine being told the love we have for another human being is wrong, unnatural, forbidden, and that it must end? Assuming you're straight, what if someone said to you, the man or the woman you love with all your heart, mind, soul, and body is wrong, that you cannot love that person, that your love is forbidden, prohibited, for whatever reason? What then? Are your feelings for that person supposed to simply end?
I've never believed real, true, meaningful love is ordinary or common or recurrent. Rather, I believe it's rare and precious and magical. It's a shame to think not everyone experiences love of this nature during his lifetime, even though I'm certain that's the case. Those who do might acknowledge it as a one time thing--a fateful meeting of two people, of whatever gender, at the right place, at the right time, and in the right headspace, to be open to the opportunity of love and the possibility of its transformative power. In other words, although our birthright, love is a singular gift, one we cannot deny or ignore when it happens.
Do we always know, to use the quote above, what the "package" we fall madly and passionately and physically in love with will look like? If you're a man, can you always say the package you fall in love with will be in the form of a woman? If you're a woman, can you always say the package you fall in love with will be in the form of a man? Would you be surprised, even stunned, if you experienced strong and undeniable feelings of love for someone of the same sex?
It happens. Believe it or not, some people don't discover until their 50s, or even older, that the love of their lives is someone of the same gender, when they had no inkling whatsoever of that possibility. Are they nothing more than latent homosexuals, having refused to succumb to earlier attractions to people of the same gender, because of familial, religious, or societal pressures? Did they finally muster the courage to be their true selves, realizing time was running out, where they could no longer justify making someone else happy at the expense of their own happiness, and where they simply didn't give a damn anymore?
Or did love have the last laugh, arriving in a package different from anything they could have anticipated?
Excluding all that complicates it, from simple attraction to sex--which, of course, is impossible--can it be said love always finds where it belongs, where it's supposed to be, its rightful home? Are we responsible, then, to accept, respect, and honor love, despite the form it takes, because we know to love is the only reason we're here, and because we should all be so lucky to experience it firsthand, regardless of its form?