Here’s a phrase you probably haven’t already heard. If you have, kudos to you, as it just stumbled into my life very recently, and I’ve been head over heels in love with it ever since. The phrase is in Japanese, and is this: Koi No Yokan. As with all the best words, all the best phrases, this too is one of those coveted “untranslatable” ones that we can fumble about trying to explain, but only to those lucky native speakers, do they truly get it. Nevertheless, for all of us who are not fluent in Japanese, or do not come from Japanese culture, I wanted to dive into it because it captivated me, and more than that, it reminded me of just how beautiful the whole idea behind it truly is, how much I have experienced it in my life.
Koi No Yokan. Best we can really describe it is a foil to the idea of “love at first sight,” which conversely, the Japanese also have a word for, Hitomebore, so Koi No Yokan would be “Love at Second sight.” In a sense, it’s a phrase that more predicts love, than asserts that it existed at the very first meeting. It’s the idea that sometimes, some beautiful and time-stopping times in our lives, we meet someone and instantly know that while we do not yet, eventually, we will fall in love with them. In its simplest form, it means the inevitability of love. My goodness, the inevitability of love, what a concept, what a stunning and heart bending thing. For all of us who have felt this, you know how deeply it strikes, you know how it feels, and I stand by the idea that it just may be deeper than the all-coveted love at first sight. What’s more, I believe that sometimes, what we mistake as that love at first sight, that hitomebore, may actually be love at second sight, may actually be koi no yokan.
Perhaps, when we see that person, that one shining beacon of a human being that somehow through pheromones and chemistry, or destiny and the gods, lights up every alarm center inside ourselves, and actually, truly, turns out to be “the” person, we’re not feeling love at first sight at all, but actually love at second sight, the inevitability that one day we will love and be loved like we never have before. Perhaps what we call love at first sight, is lust at first sight? Perhaps, but who am I to say? I know, that in my life, I have felt both, and strangely, I have felt them both for the same person, for Sarah in all her damn glory. I knew, instantly, that she was the person I would spend the rest of my life loving. I knew that no one would compete, that nothing would ever be the same again. I knew the road would be long, that it’d probably be a crooked and winding path, but I’d walk it anyway. I knew that, I said that, and I called it inevitable.
Did I love her instantly? Probably, but not love as it is now, and this is where I distinguish between the two. The love we feel at first sight, the one the Japanese have a separate name for, a name I probably butchered when I said it twice above, is not the love we grow into, not the love that consumes time like a langolier in a Stephen King novel, not the love that anchors us to the people we need to become, the people we had latent inside all this time. That love is different, that love belongs to the second sight, to the koi no yokan, that love belongs to the people we turn into after we suffer and strive, after we share and feel sorrow. This love is the kind I write about ad nauseam and probably the love that makes you want to smack me in my metaphorical face for sometimes, hell, my real face sometimes too. This is the love I keep telling you over and over again to wait for, to refuse to settle for, to endure for. This is the love we’re built to share, to enjoy, to celebrate. This love at second sight.
I believe there is weight, there is value, in things that predict rather than demand. I believe there is so much strength in the plant that grows slow and steady rather than explodes with growth then withers and fades. Yes, love can do both, hell mine did, but as I’ve said, there are different kinds, different layers to love, and they all do different things to us.
I Love love, love at first sight, love at second sight, love that transcends what we know of time and space. I love that when all that fills this world is boiled down, reduced, simmered til almost nothing at all, the only thing that will remain, is love. I believe this, I always have, and I fight for that belief every day though my words, my actions, and the promises I’m willing to make.
Koi No Yokan, the kind worth waiting for, the kind worth searching for, the kind that redefines inevitable for you, and for the rest of your life. Seek it. Wait for it.
In the meantime, watch this beautiful little video of native Japanese speakers trying their best to explain an often untranslatable thing:
I Love you all, I hope you know this. First, second, third, and everything else.
Deeper than first sight,
it’s love always predicted,