All About Eve – Martha’s Harbour

Love always entails a paradox, simultaneous peace and restlessness, not only in succession but in the same moment, reaching out toward a person who seems like salvation, but who yet also symbolises perdition. The more desperate we are to find solace, the more vulnerable we become, and more aware of our own helplessness when facing someone who is still a mystery, perhaps always will be.

So we look for a way to sail the stormy seas, the safety to face the waves, whether stormy or peaceful, feeling helpless while doing so. It feels like it’s worth the risk, depending on how we see ourselves, whether we believe ourselves strong enough, should the waves suddenly start to look overwhelming.

The harbour in the song is a place of safety and solitude, but the heart longs for the sea. In contrast, a harbour could also be an image of love itself, the beloved as a place of rest and security. These are not merely metaphors. That is, using a metaphor strengthens our own prejudice and starts to become a reality in itself, the image takes over the original feeling, gets locked into place, until there’s no way for the original feeling to change, be it of hesitation or safety.

The sea is also an image of freedom. If I could sail you out into the open, maybe i could feel free and safe at the same time. That is what love is like at its best, support and encouragement that enables us to venture out, to be ourselves more fully. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that one cannot be oneself being isolated in a small harbour, but surely the more we face different situations, the more we discover in ourselves, at least of our abilities to survive in different environments.

Love gives us that trust in ourselves as well as the partner, enabling us to take the chance. But before that, one has to take the chance alone, to see whether the wave carries us or if we sink into the sea, never to surface again. Yet, human beings are buoyant alone as well. Both solitude and entanglement may feel like freedom or then a prison. Largely it a question of attitude, but much more so when one doesn’t have to consider another person’s wishes and desires.

It can make relationships more frightening. Yet it is all that matters to those who have found the kind of relationship in which it doesn’t feel like anything of importance is sacrificed while life is enhanced by all the support, the little touches, the conversations, the presence of another being with whom to reflect yourself, to share the intimacy and moments of despair as well as joy.