“Huh?” Gertruida looks up in surprise as Vetfaan taps her on the shoulder.
“I’ve asked you three times already,” the big man says, “and you still ignore me. You’re so lost in thought – you seem miles away. Prieska. Or maybe the moon. But you weren’t here, that’s for sure.”
She flashes him an uncertain smile. “Oh, I’m sorry. What did you want to know?”
“It’s this thing with Boggel. Lucinda seemed such a nice girl, and now she trotted off to see that Italian fellow again. I don’t understand it … does she love Boggel, or not?”
Gertruida – who knows everything – shakes her head. “It’s a question of fulfilment, Vetfaan.” Signalling for an early-morning coffee, she falls silent, thinking about love once more. Vetfaan must stop bothering her; she needs to sort something out in her mind.
There was a time – so long ago – she thought she understood the magic of mutual attraction. It was, she thought, something like gravity. If the pull became stronger the nearer you got to a companion, then the possibility of love became a reality. However, even with love the two entities have to allow space, a certain distance, to allow each individual to still remain separate. Now that was a conundrum. If the laws of attraction wanted to combine two halves to make a whole, the logical result was a new unity. Yet, despite the magnetism of love, the need to retain individual identities demands space.
Now that’s ridiculous, she thinks. Why would two people gravitate towards each other, to only realise they have to remain separate to some degree? Why can love not cross that border and morph the two into a new mindset?
“What do you mean: fulfilment?” Vetfaan is still pestering her.
“Oh for heaven’s sakes Vetfaan! Can’t you see I’m busy here?” Seeing the disappointed look on his face, she relents. “Listen, people think love is all about rose petals, violins and schmaltzy words. It’s because they read Mills and Boon and watch television all the time. Children get Ken and Barbie dolls and what do they see? Everlasting love, with a mommy and a daddy and a little house on the prairie, that’s what. Teenagers fall in love and think sex is the next step; they lose the magic even before they realise what it is. Then we get older and more analytical and we start choosing who we hang out with. Now, suddenly, we demand a companion with emotional and intellectual skills to complement our own. The older we get, the more we complicate our definition of love. Eventually, when you start looking for somebody to spend the rest of your life with, your head is so screwed you have no idea what you’re looking for.”
Vetfaan tries to give the impression he understands, but even Boggel has to smile at his puzzled look. Pushing over a beer, he asks Gertruida to go on with her explanation.
“I read about Theia some time ago. They had a wonderful article in National Geographic about the planet-sized object that struck the earth billions of years ago. Of course, the aftermath of the collision must have been catastrophic, but the impact also knocked a piece of earth into space. This was the origin of the moon.”
Vetfaan throws his hands into the air in exasperation. “Gee, Gertruida, I thought we were talking about love, and now you’re lecturing us about the stars. Boggel! Give me a beer, this woman is driving me nuts.”
Gertruida only smiles at this. She didn’t really expect the men to understand. “It’s the same thing, Vetfaan. Theia was attracted to the earth by gravitational forces. It collided with a massive impact. Some of Theia contributed to the earth’s core of iron; but the piece Theia knocked off the surface, became a celestial body in it’s own right. “ She waits to see if they grasp the metaphor. Of course they don’t. Men, she thinks, can be so dim when it comes to analogies.
“Look – Body A attracts Body B. They collide and amalgamate. In the process they create Body C. The point is this: simply joining Bodies A and B is already a recipe for disaster. The post-impact period must have been something else – the earth’s rotation was changed, the day-periods were altered and the poles influenced. And that’s not even considering the effects on climate or atmosphere. Chaos! Now, when Boy meets Girl, much the same thing happens. Suddenly, if they are so strongly attracted to each other, the impact of this meeting changes everything they’ve become used to in the past.”
Vetfaan snaps his fingers. “Oh, I get it! You’re saying falling in love releases strong forces that change lives. Okay. I’ve got that. What does it have to do with the moon?”
“No, Vetfaan, I’m saying the initial impact of the strong attraction individuals experience with other individuals, may cause a lot of chaos. Like Theia, it is often a chance meeting, an unexpected event. But, if it’s only an impact – like a meteor striking the earth – it only gouges a hole in the ground, buggers up the atmosphere and causes a lot of destruction.
“The difference between attraction and love, is the moon – can’t you see that?” She glances at the two men, getting blank stares in return. “Oh come on, you morons! Many people think they fall in love, but it’s a me-thing. They’re in it for themselves. All that happens, is a climate change and that soon wears off. The chaos they produce is destructive and it doesn’t last.
“But … if they produce a moon, that’s different. Now, that’s what real love is all about: creating something of beauty – a lasting monument to a common goal and a common achievement. It not only supplies light for the couple concerned in dark tines; it also lights up the night for people around them.
“It’s so simple, I can’t understand you don’t get it.” Sighing in frustration, she signals for a beer.
Boggel obliges, pushes over the beer, and plays with the idea. “Okay, let me try. The moon was formed by two objects colliding in space. The earth recovered eventually, but then it had a moon as a result of the meeting. It sounds very much like a pregnancy and the resultant baby?”
“Well done, Boggel! You’re getting it! Let’s go with your idea of pregnancy … Mommy and Daddy meet. They make passionate love. Then the purpose of their union takes over. Once the baby is born, it requires a lot of attention. The mother and father have to nurture the infant with infinite care and dedication – together and individually. Of course a lot of things can go wrong; from conception until adulthood, a massive variety of pitfalls await. But – once the parents concentrate their efforts on the child to the point where they put their own interests behind them, they have a chance at success.”
All this is way beyond Vetfaan, who’d rather be on his farm with his sheep right now. Pregnancies and strange planets bumping into earth are not his favourite subjects. “Ag come on, you guys! Falling in love is about feeling good. You love somebody who cares for you. Love isn’t a smash-up – it’s a gentle slide into a comfort-zone. And once you’re there, you’ve got somebody to cook for you and serve cold beer while you’re watching rugby. Why, if I can convince a girl to love me, I’ll…”
“…do nothing, Vetfaan. Literally. That’s what’s wrong. No woman in her right mind will go for a man with such chauvinistic ideas.” Gertruida frowns her frustration. Vetfaan has such a lot to learn…
Boggel, on the other hand, suddenly gets a new insight into fulfilment. He always thought fulfilment was that feeling that made one feel complete. Now he realises fulfilment involves much more – it isn’t something you get; it’s something you create. And, his thoughts race ahead, you cannot do it alone. You need a partner to create fulfilment – and only then do you approach the goal of love.
“Then how, Gertruida, does one know? I mean – we’ve all met thousands of people in our lives – how do you know which one is the right one?”
“Billions of years ago, there were many Theias. Our moon was formed by a single one of these. Maybe it was luck; or maybe it was destined to happen like that. But earth and moon were formed perfectly by that impact. And it lasts.
“If you meet your Theia, it’ll hurt a bit. Your life will change. It’s no comfort zone. Some of the woman will merge with you; and some of you, with her. But, most importantly, you’ll create something you want to take care of. It’s not only about the girl, Boggel, it’s about looking after the love the two of you produce. And you know what? She’ll feel the same.
“Falling in love is a misnomer. Discovering that you actually produced love and want to care for love; that’s the right way of looking at it. People fall in love in the movies; it’s a passive thing actors portray on the screen, making it seem as if it is something that just happens. For the rest of us: we have to realise how hard it is to produce love, and how much effort it takes to look after love. For us common mortals, it’s an active thing.
“And that’s how you know, Boggel. Somebody who wants to look after fulfilment with you. It’s that simple.”
“Har!” Vetfaan has had enough. “As clear as mud. If you ask me. I’m going to chat with Sammie – we understand each other.”
Boggel and Gertruida watch as Vetfaan stomps out.
“It’s about fulfilment.” Boggel says in wonder.”Two people working independently on a common goal.”
That’s when Gertruida gets her answer. Yes, she thinks, that’s it! That’s the space needed, the distance required. When love happens, it is because two individuals remain separate enough to maintain focus on what they’ve created. Love, the moon, can only orbit the combined mass of Theia and the earth because that’s what provides the pull of gravity. She knows better than to try and explain that to Boggel…
“Yes.” Gertruida pats the bent back. “You know what to do now, don’t you?” It’s not a question.
She’s rewarded by a hesitant smile. “It’s going to be hard work, Gertruida. And even then it may not work out. I mean, chances are…”
“… you’ll never know if you haven’t tried.” She completes the sentence for him. “Some planets don’t have moons, you know? Venus is one. Can you imagine how dark the nights are with no moonlight?”
Boggel can. He’s had too many of those. And even if it creates chaos, he must find out.