Seeing People: The Real Stuff of Life is Messy

“I just think it’s bad when a boy looks at a girl and thinks that the way he sees the girl is better than the girl actually is.” – Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

My friend once asked me, “Shouldn’t we see the best in people? Isn’t that the point of love?”

I don’t know about that. I think we should see people, period. The good, the bad, the ugly. It doesn’t feel good to be loved only for our goodness, for our best. We need to know that our entirety, including our worst, has a home – is understood, and wanted, and cared for. And not judged.

It is remarkably difficult, but so essential to accept people for who they actually are, rather than for what we imagine them to be. It is narcissistic to believe that the version I have in my head of someone is the only version worth loving. That version is all about me. It has nothing to do with them. And it misses the real opportunity that love allows us, which is to engage in – to create, build, sustain – something beyond our immediate selves. A profound interpretation of love involves embracing a reality far richer than our wildest imagination. The point of love, I think, is to be bigger than ourselves.

The difference between fantasizing about the best meal of our life and actually eating it is that only through the latter do we end with food in our teeth, grease on our hands, fullness in our belly. The real stuff of life is messy. The real stuff of life is filling.

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3 thoughts on “Seeing People: The Real Stuff of Life is Messy

  1. I want to say you’re really good with allegories – but I’m not sure that’s the right word. It’s a jungle out there for us non-native English speakers. But I think you know what I mean anyway. And you’re very good at it.

    I also feel the need to use a term by a white, straight dude here (boring but…).
    “Imagine people complexly.” Can’t help but think of it every time this discussion comes up. But that dude did not mention that it “is narcissistic to believe that the version I have in my head of someone is the only version worth loving” (quoting ’cause I don’t want to try to rephrase it – it will not end well). And I hadn’t thought of that either. Which is too bad. I think I could have used that earlier in my life.

  2. That version is all about me. It has nothing to do with them. And it misses the real opportunity that love allows us, which is to engage in – to create, build, sustain – something beyond our immediate selves. A profound interpretation of love involves embracing a reality far richer than our wildest imagination. The point of love, I think, is to be bigger than ourselves.

    This is so well written, and I agree 100%! Thanks for this insight

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