I have to reveal my obsession with Alain de Botton. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him — he’s a Swiss born, Harvard educated philosopher with a worldview that I appreciate SO MUCH. Believe me, you want to know who he is. Check him out here.
He had an interview with Krista Tippett in her marvelous podcast On Being that seems to me so timely with today’s arrival of Valentine’s Day. As a side note, can you believe it’s Valentine’s Day already? I feel like I was just putting away the Christmas decorations about five minutes ago.
In the podcast I mentioned, he talked about love, about the act and discipline of loving and how marriage is generally approached in our modern world in a way that is both unrealistic and unsustainable. I highly recommend a listen — of course he has a gorgeous accent to accompany that razor-sharp mind.
To share a quote I transcribed:
“Look, love is a painful, poignant, touching attempt by two flawed individuals to try and meet each other’s needs in situations of gross uncertainty and ignorance about who they are and who the other person is, but we’re going to do our best. That’s a much more generous starting point. So, the acceptance of ourselves as flawed creatures seems to me what love really is. Love is at its most necessary when we are weak, when we feel incomplete, and we must show love to one another at those points.”
This should be required reading for everyone who is preparing to walk down the aisle. There is so much truth in that paragraph — it could take an entire book to unpack it. But with today’s focus on love and romance, I just felt compelled to share his wisdom. Especially now, a year into this crazy pandemic, with most relationships having felt a bit of strain at one point or another. I have been married twice and I will tell you that the part about two flawed individuals is, to me, most decidedly true. There is nothing like a love-relationship to reveal your deepest flaws and shortcomings, but it is equally true that these connections can be agents for our most profound transformation and healing.
He closed the podcast with this zinger:
“And it (love) requires forbearance, generosity, imagination, and a million things besides. And we must fiercely resist the idea that true love must mean conflict-free love, that the course of true love is smooth. It’s not. The course of true love is rocky and bumpy at the best of times. That’s the best we can manage as the creatures we are — that flawed humanity — the better chance we’ll have of doing the true hard work of love.”
Love IS hard work sometimes. But it is also the element that brings meaning, depth, purpose and true beauty to our lives.
In this spirit, I am inviting you to make a list of the top three things you love and appreciate about your partner or closest relationship. Share that list with them on this most auspicious of love-focused days, and know that by articulating your appreciation, you communicate your acceptance of yourself and of them. That is love (and the philosophy of sanctuary) in action. Tell me how it goes! I’m making my list for Philip now.
With love and gratitude,