Buffy Sainte-Marie – Until It’s Time for You to Go

A song of impermanence more sweet than bitter, a plea to keep loving as long as possible, realizing that coming from different worlds may be an insurmountable obstacle, but at least for a while it is possible to stand on that obstacle together, see what the world looks like on the top. To love, to stay together, to make a choice to try to make it work until it’s impossible.

The future doesn’t exist, and the past seems like a dream. Being infatuated both the future and the past are usually transformed. What used to be the main stumbling blocks in life suddenly is insubstantial, utterly changed. The power of bad memories disappears. Love is blind not only because we disregard the flaws or warning signs in each other, but also because we become blind to our own wounds. But such blindness can just as well be described as a moment of clarity: whatever is in the past can be left behind, and the only thing making past experiences powerful is how we keep clinging to them in the present. It’s all in the mind, these diaphanous thoughts and feelings through which we can see the light of the moon, a new infatuation that beckons us to cast away the gauze. “Don’t ask why / Don’t ask how”; these are the question related to the past. The answers would be explanations that would situate the attraction in a continuum of memories. But it is not necessary. Even the future is not necessary, only that we choose to love each other here and now.

And yet: “don’t ask forever”. There is a recognition that the future still exists, we must keep living on, and that there’s a limit to how long we can be together. The third verse is somewhat ambiguous, since you can interpret it to mean that the relationship is already ending. But it’s not a terrible stretch to hear it as a plea to stay in the moment, retaining this feeling, no matter when the ending comes. All we know is that the end exists, whether it is the death of feelings tomorrow or the death of a partner decades in the future.

What about this: “This love of mine had no beginning / it has no end”? It’s sometimes said as a joke that love does not end, only the object changes. The rather dark humour comes from the fact that usually it’s not love that has such an unchanging quality. Instead, it’s the need to be accepted. And people who are most damaged may hold on to that need as if it was something noble, jumping from one relationship to another in succession.

However, there is a truer meaning to this thought. It is possible to find in oneself love that persists, the feeling of happiness and joy in one’s own existence, gentleness toward oneself, acceptance of one’s flaws, rejoicing in simply being in the world, whatever we may encounter. That kind of love is strength instead of weakness, and once discovered, it does not have to end. It does not need to seek a new object of admiration because the world is wonderful enough to provide happiness. And it also means that if there would come a time for the loved one to go, however that happens, we are able to accept it. There is joy in the world, and joy in being able to share it.

Love remains a guiding feeling, a principle that brings colours into the world. Let us be good and gentle with each other, even if everything is impermanent. Let us travel through the shadows hand in hand, find significance in each other. Let us stay here, trusting in each other, making the choice to look one another in the eyes, truthfully, believing in good intentions. There are always endings, but they are not here yet, while there’s still time to smile, to touch, to keep on loving right now until all the smiles have faded, touches are no longer felt, and the now has disappeared into the murky waters of history, never to return.