Monday Musings…Dialogue with the Door: Dinner for Two
Valentine’s Day was approaching, so I asked my clandestine companions to post only the first name of someone they loved and then to tell me why. There is something intriguing about not knowing the author, and better yet, who the intended person is that they are writing to!
Here are the responses:
There are a lot of reasons why someone is attracted to another person and eventually works up the courage to use the “L” word. As much as we want to play down physical appearance, thinking it is a shallow motive, it does play a part in drawing our attention. In fact, it is the initial step in the process of attraction. We are visual people; that sense is keenly developed from a very young age, as infants even display pleasure when they see an ‘attractive’ face. For the infant, ‘attractive’ means that the facial features are symmetrical or evenly balanced and that is pleasing to the child. So the person looking at the baby may have a huge nose, let’s say, but if the nostrils are evenly spaced on either side of the bridge of the nose, the person is worthy of being a model! We are wired to look for what is pleasing to our eye, and so the saying: beauty is in the eye of the beholder, is absolutely true. Everyone has the potential to be beautiful to someone else!
But my fellow cellar dwellers at the college wrote about many other love factors. Support was one that certainly stood out. The support they wrote about was sacrificial in nature– love meant willing to give up time for the other person and to be there when no one else would be. This is taking love out of the idealistic realm of emotion and placing it properly into the world of action. Many have been told: “I’ll be there for you” only to be left waiting and wanting and finally realizing it was a waste of time to invest in empty promises. So to have a person who thinks so much about you that they are willing to put you first, well that is love worth investing in.
Love, too, can apparently inspire the recipient to become a better person. I’m glad that more than one person wrote about that. If someone truly loves you, they work hard to understand how you are wired, they ask about your hopes and dreams, and they encourage you to maximize your potential. Many of you hold yourself back, when left to your own head space. Doubts and fears can make you second guess many things, but someone who knows you and loves you can inspire you towards greatness. This person not only has your back, like the support mentioned above, they also want you to excel even if that means you supersede them. Being thoughtful and selfless are excellent ingredients for love.
A few wrote about loving yourself first. That’s a pretty popular myth in our culture and can become an excuse for those who repeatedly fall into bad relationships. Well I don’t really like who I am, so how can I love anybody else? Look at it this way: We came into this world as helpless babes completely dependent on others to provide for our basic needs, one of which is love. Some of us had great parents and some of us did not. The fact is we were not equipped to give love at the beginning of life. We could only receive it. And infants respond when they sense the person caring for them is selfless (a.k.a. sleep-deprived, hungry, and broke) and not to busty to give them the attention that they need. Children delight when they are shown ways to become a ‘better’ person as they are coached through the travails of toddlerhood, adolescence, and emerging adulthood. They are responding each step of the way and know what love is. So maybe a better way to look at the old adage is to say: You can’t love others, until you’ve experienced love yourself. And for those who come from a difficult upbringing, that love may have been given to you through another relative, a teacher, or additional prominent person in your life. We live in a complaining culture – there are way too many things we don’t like about ourselves, so if it were true that we need to love ourselves first, we would be disqualified from ever loving. So if someone loves us, and accepts us as we are (as one person wrote), then that realization allows us to love back. While love is a fundamental need, it really is a learned response.
Love is a multi-faceted emotional response that must be followed through with action. It is supportive, sacrificial, and selfless. We begin life as the recipient of love that equips us to then give love to those around us so we continue that cycle through time. Love is not private enterprise, for where would the validation or feedback come from to make us better people? Rather, our lives and our love are meant to be shared just like your favourite meal at a Chinese restaurant! Here is the fortune cookie we all need to receive:
If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap. If you want happiness for a day — go fishing. If you want happiness for a month — get married. If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else. – Chinese Proverb