Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Samantha Lee Week 40: Love Mortal and Immortal

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Samantha Lee’s Picture Choice: 2

Title: Love Mortal and Immortal

Even before divorce became the world's second most popular social activity after weddings, I've thought it rather amusing when mortals go on about loving their chosen mates forever. For one thing, I'm not entirely certain mortals actually grasp the concept. Sure, they have the pretty words and the grand gestures and the rather fixed ideas. They build monuments and write stories and sing ballads, all exulting in the power and beauty and enduring nature of love. They perform elaborate ceremonies and spout declarations of everlasting love almost at the drop of a hat, which I personally think has more to do with a desire not to live out their lives alone than any true concept of devotion or, you know, that whole love thing. Putting aside the fact that I'm pretty sure they go on about "eternity" and "forever" when what they really mean is the smattering of decades they're assigned in life, I'm convinced that what mortals feel, what they claim as love, is but a pale imitation of the love of immortals.

That makes me sound prejudiced, doesn't it? Or, at the very least, it makes me seem rather snobbish and elitist. It's not that I don't like mortals nor is it that I don't recognize their worth; I do on both counts. I've read the books and seen the films where the immortals character romanticize the brevity of mortal lives, waxing poetic about the urgency that accompanies such limited time frames. Mortals are fireworks, they say, like fireflies, like candle flames, like lightning strikes; they explode brightly and beautifully in quick and sudden bursts before fading away forever. Ultimately, this only tells me that I should always choose the mortal sacrifice over the immortal; the swiftness of their passing gives them less to lose by dying before their time. Should a Fae give up centuries, possibly millennia, to grant a mortal but a few decades more? I have yet to hear a convincing argument in their favour.

When it comes to love, however, I fail to understand how a love with a built-in expiration date can compare to one that spans centuries. Mortals tell of couples that overcome obstacles and odds and all manner of things in order to be together. They tell of years filled with happiness and joy, tragedy and sorrow, arguments and compromise. Sometimes, they breed and raise children. Sometimes, they work side by side, day after day. Sometimes, they are volatile. Sometimes, they are calm. Always, always, always they are together until, finally, eventually, ultimately, Death claims them and their bonds are broken. Provided, that is, the fickleness of human hearts doesn't break them sooner.

Immortals are not the same. Well, alright, there are similarities. We date and court potential mates, for instance, just as mortals do. There is no mystical pull, no predetermined signs, no I-see-you-and-it-clicks phenomenon; we have to develop our relationships and emotions just the same as mortals, with all the drama and potential heartache that goes along with it. The difference is what comes later, once the tale is through and the blessedly wedded couple rides off into the sunset to live happily ever after.

Fae, vampires, and werewolves are creatures that live for a very, very, very long time and we have evolved to cope with the years in our lives in a myriad of ways but none so effective as how we feel. Our emotions are deeper, fiercer, brighter than any mortal's. When we are joyful, we blaze with the warmth and glory of a dozen suns. When we are saddened, we wither and waste like a seedling left in the dark and cold. When we are angered, we explode with such ire and wrath that the gods themselves quake. And so on, and so on. We exist as power and wrath made flesh, the perfect soldiers of nature herself, gliding gracefully through our lives like dreams in the mist until finally we find our match, our mate.

When immortals love, we are consumed by it. The joining of a mated pair in true marriage creates a bond that opens a connection, a link that's truly meant to stand the tests of time and all its ravages. We share everything; our emotions, our thoughts, our souls. We calm each other's anger, sooth each other's grief, enhance each other's joy, strengthen each other's courage. I know, I know - it sounds a lot like mortal love, doesn't it? And you're right; it does. It's difficult to explain, like finding the words to describe colours to the blind, or birdsong to the deaf. There's a depth to immortal love, an added facet if you will, that puts a whole other level to it. This isn't a love you grow out of or fades with time or can change to bitterness. This is an all-consuming, all-enduring love that is brand into our hearts and minds at the moment of our mating.

I am mated to a vampire/Fae hybrid. We met while he was trying to kill me and things went downhill from there. It's been almost three centuries now since that fateful...day, week, misadventure - whatever you care to call it. There are times we argue like cats and dogs, where we physically fight and turn our surroundings into demolished battle zones. There are times where we tear the world down and rebuild it anew just to make each other smile. There is a warm presence at the back of my mind, different from the others, that pulses and glows with love and amusement. I see him and ice thaws, lights brightens, fear vanishes. He touches me and I am anchored, my presence in the world assured. He speaks to me and I am realized, my existence confirmed. I can see through his eyes, hear through his ears, know his thoughts as my own. It's the same for him; that's how mating works for the immortal. It's not just a matter of being together, it's a matter of being joined, of having that one person who in all the world knows you fully and completely and not only accepts you, but revels in you, not for years or decades, but for centuries and millennia.

Not even death can sever these ties. Should I die before my mate, or he before me, we wait, separate by only the thinnest of veils and still able to be together in dreams and moonlight, waiting forever if that's what it takes. In the meanwhile, the living mate, though living, grieves until death, unable to take other lovers or find others loves; that role has already been filled, after all. Days, years, centuries, however long the surviving mate might live, the claim of their passed on beloved continues. Once reunited, the pair spend what time is given to them in the summer lands and then pass again into life to find each other once more and begin anew. If you're lucky.

You only have one mate. My father never found his.

Mortals meanwhile go on about their love, about its quality and beauty and endurance. They claim they'll love their mates forever and then divorce. They claim they'll be loyal forever, and then cheat. They claim they'll be devoted forever, and then move on. In the end, mortal love seems to be more about the words than the emotions, although, yes, it's true that some pairs do indeed spend the rest of their lives together. Until death do them part.

I don't think a mortal could ever comprehend, ever relate to what immortals consider love. But it is rather amusing to see them try.


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