so long, and thanks for the herring…
A long time ago a wise man gave me some advice about love. He said, “Love doesn’t say I need you therefore I love you, but rather you need me therefore I love you.”
This piece of wisdom, of course, speaks not just about the nature of love in a romantic sense, but our experience of all relationships.
So often we fail because we get our needs the wrong way round.
There’s a old video on YouTube of Viktor Frankl talking to some university students in Toronto (https://youtu.be/fD1512_XJEw). In telling a story about learning to fly, he reveals a profound truth about humanity by quoting Goethe:
“When we treat man as he is, we make him worse than he is; when we treat him as if he already were what he potentially could be, we make him what he should be.”
It told a truth I had long held close to my heart, but until that moment never fully imagined — that if I am to make this place a better world for me being in it, then it is not me I need to treat better, but rather my fellow man. For I am made better by those that treat me as I might be, not as I am.
In this case that fellow man is you.
It is would be easy to treat you as you are and without expectation, but this would make you worse that you are.
Much harder, to treat you as what you potentially could be. This takes empathy, for which I am not well endowed.
I wanted to believe what I thought you could be, but in the process managed only to doom you to my own expectations. The best of friendships are based first on the needs of the other, not one’s own. This wasn’t one of them.
I do that a often, but then I’ve always found it much easier to dream about others than myself. And I would not be where I am today if not for them.
So long, and thanks for the herring...