I’ve always had a fascination with the idea of a soul mate. The mythical story told at Plato’s Symposium seems so romantic that one could spend an eternity looking for their other half. Are you searching for your soulmate, the one who knows what you are thinking, who understands you, who will desire you forever?
It was Aristophanes who told the story at the symposium. He states that humans originally had four arms, four legs and a single head made of two faces. They were mighty and would cartwheel everywhere, moving very fast. They also had great strength and threatened to conquer the gods. Zeus, King of the Greek gods, devised a creative solution to split them in half as punishment for their pride, doubling the number of humans who would give tribute to the gods and halving their strength. Each one then longed for its other half.
What does all of this mean for us today, in modernity? We’ve all experienced the ‘we just clicked’ or ‘we are on the same wavelength’ feeling. We can all identify that there are people for whom we have a natural affinity. For me, a soulmate also has to be desired. Some people describe they have a soulmate with whom they have a platonic, non-romantic relationship. This is a best friend, not a soulmate. Searching for your soulmate is different. The narrative of the soulmate is seeking the other half from whom you have been severed. It is passionate, romantic and profoundly moving. Aristophanes says his speech explains the source of our desire to love each other.
“Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature. Each of us, then, is a matching half of a human whole…and each of us is always seeking the half that matches him.”
So where do we find this someone who can ‘cure the wound of human nature’, the soulmate who will make us complete and restore our joy and optimism? Ancient Christian philosopher Augustine proposed this wound could not be cured. He says we bare a kernel of the infinite within us. Thus, finite things cannot fulfil us. Our desires can never be satisfied, which is humanity’s ultimate flaw. We always seek more, never happy with the beauty, love, and riches we already have.
As our search continues, some of us have many soulmates; we no longer believe there is just one. There is one that satisfies our physical desires, the one that meets our emotional needs, the one we cry with, the one we talk with, the one who holds our secrets, and the one who shares our joy. We become so fragmented that everything and nothing is meaningful.
How did this happen? When searching for our soulmate, we are constantly told one person cannot satisfy our every desire and that we should seek out these deficits of nature in others. What does this do to us? When we have so many encounters with others, does this satiate our souls more thoroughly or exacerbate the sense of what is missing? Our days are punctuated by moments when our hearts quicken and we feel desire, excitement, and passion. But they pass by so fast, these little moments. How can we ever be certain we chose the correct one when the others are alluring? Each of us decides whether there is one or many who will pass through our lives with the honour of having been a soulmate. Each of us settles on a story that is the truth we need to believe now.
By proposition, the soulmate makes you whole and can cure the wound of human nature. It is someone who knows what gives your life meaning. It is someone who wants to lie entwined with you every day. It is someone who hears you when you are silent and laughs with you when you are loud. It is someone we all search for.
For more Robert Doisneau photos http://www.artnet.com/artists/robert-doisneau/
For more Greek Mythology https://www.greekmythology.com/Olympians/Zeus/zeus.html