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On nothing but the truth

June 9, 2016



I'm sort of convinced that love happens when both parties aren't looking. Like it was unexpected, perhaps even inconvenient. So totally out of the bluest blue. Glorified by the absence of trying.


Like the time the wind picked up and my hat flew away, but I still ran after it in utter glee.

When I got lost on a route, but rode along for a few more miles and stumbled upon my new favorite eatery—the BBQ joint, right there on the side of the road.

A shift in space and time when my smile could no longer be contained, so it produced something else entirely: goose bumps.


I once asked a priest of his opinion on matters of love: How much of it is divine? And how much individual effort?

Hmm, I don't know, he shrugged. But I did hear Buddha had it figured out.


Who's driving the convertible?

Top down,

         wind knocks the love right out of me

                     and rushes into you,

                                          almost against your will.

When it rains,

         you simply reach for your sunglasses, smiling,

                     as if waiting

                                          for water’s redemption, for I don’t know what.

Drunk on love,

         you whisk me away to another land,

                     promising on the other side

                                          romance is still alive and well.

All the while,

         I am left wondering,

                     who’s driving the convertible?

                                          since we’re making out in the back seat.

Then it hits me:

         I don’t even care because,

                     despite the rain,

                                          I see myself in the reflection of your sunglasses.


When the Buddha became enlightened, he learned of four noble truths, now the benchmarks of Buddhism:


1. The truth of suffering. 

2. The truth of desire.

3. The truth of cessation of desire.

4. The truth of the 8-fold path to end the cause of suffering: 


right view, right intent, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration; meditation.


In a relationship, as in life, there will be suffering (whether or not you're currently "with" someone.) It's confusing because the noble truths indicate that it's completely normal to desire more than you currently have, even if you are in love. It's "the grass is always greener" concept. However, the third truth provides some useful insight as to why people often say you find love only when you have stopped its search entirely; according to Buddha, once you eliminate desire, you also eliminate suffering. Happiness, joy and love have a much easier chance of entering an open heart, free of suffering.


It's a funky conundrum: searching for love creates suffering, which deflects love. 




No wonder a priest directed me to Buddhist teachings when I posed my initial question. (A Christian response would have caused too much suffering!)  Though if I were to meet with the priest again, I would tell him my findings since taking his indirect advice:


There is no need for effort in finding love (which, in and of itself, is divine). Truth is, love is already there.


Charles Roussel is an editorial, advertising and portrait photographer based in Brooklyn, NY, "trying to tell stories in the universal language." He has been featured in the New York Times, W Magazine, Whitewall Mag (among other publications), and some of his clients include The Coca-Cola Company, Revlon, and The Standard Hotel. Roussel's photograph shown above is an installation view of Random International's Rain Room at The Museum of Modern Art, as part of MoMA PS1's Expo 1: New York, 2013.*


*Using digital technology, Rain Room creates a choreographed field of pouring water that pauses whenever a human body is detected, simultaneously encouraging people to become performers on an unexpected stage. The work was created to heighten awareness of people's presence in space, though the line to wait for the experience at MoMA was anywhere between 4-8 hours long.


For less wait time, you can follow Charles Roussel on social media:


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