“If you love something set it free. If it comes back it’s yours. If not, it was never meant to be.” ~ Unknown
A few years ago, that saying was all over the internet, but it never sat quite right with me.
On first glance—and maybe second and third, too—it seems like wisdom. Of course! If it’s mine, it will find its way back to me. And the natural next thought: if they love me, they will come back…or it wasn’t love.
This gets a bit muddy when we start talking about humans, though.
Unlike a favorite pair of earrings, a human doesn’t “belong” to me. I don’t belong to them. I follow my own paths, and, shocking though this may be, my every decision isn’t about them, whoever they are.
They may not come back. I may not come back. But does that mean it wasn’t love?
To evaluate the love in our relationships according to their staying power is to belittle a whole category of loves.
As a long-term wanderer, I am familiar with goodbyes. I would hope that the people in my life—friends and lovers both—would understand that when I move to the other side of the world, it’s not about them.
This is for anyone who loves a vagabond. That quote up there? It’s not for you.
To love a vagabond, let them go—and trust that whether they come back or not, they love you too.
Accept your place in the natural hierarchy of things: above lust, below wings.
Study the difference between passion and grasping. Learn the ochre-hued nuance of nostalgia, the cerulean shades of longing. Know when neither is about you.
To love a vagabond, cultivate your garden (the inner one), for when they dig their fingers into your skin, they’re seeking rich soil.
To love a vagabond, take your cues from the wolves and cranes. Be constant and ever-present, yet ready to coast on the wings of change. Understand that you cannot free something that was never caged.
Embrace the contradiction of giving everything and yet nothing. For a vagabond wants nothing from you—only your whole heart. Celebrate the relentless advance of change, of age, of time.
This love will not promise you forever. It won’t even promise you tomorrow.
At least it is honest.
A vagabond is selfish, so you, too, must be selfish.
A vagabond gives equal weight to dreams and waking—so you, too, must dream your world into being.
A vagabond has wandered since long before you were born. You, too, must rethink everything you thought certain.
To love a vagabond, you must decide: Is this the love you want? Can you feast on cerulean-tipped and shadowed memories and be satisfied?
If so, close your eyes, let go of your certainties, and dream of flying.
Author: Toby Israel
Image: Used with permission from Casparo Brown of The Wandering Wild School
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman
Social Editor: Catherine Monkman