“You are not I; therein lies the irreparable calamity.” – Vladimir Nabokov
One of the most powerful things I’ve ever seen recently is a lone woman, standing in a television audience, heavyset with her 70-ish pedigree, frosted hair and a gentle Mid-Western way, giving her thoughts on where she retrieves her self-confidence, her self-awareness…and how she responds to other’s doubt and criticism. She, who had been through divorce after a 27-year marriage and the multitude of other things that decades of life on this planet bring you, said her reply to the unrelenting is always the same: “You could be right.”
What???? Rita goes on, “Well they COULD be, it’s their story of me, not mine.” Other’s feelings, be they love or hate, were simply a point of view. Nothing more. She decided not to be defined by what others say, think, feel, relate, share, facebook, tweet, email, IM, and otherwise discuss while having beers at the bar while watching the game. To not be defined by another’s meaningless chatter.
Ever a student of Carl Jung’s philosophies, I know that everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves. We are attracted to mirrors of our own images, but also repelled by our own faults reflected back. We are always ready to accept the pretty, but scoff at the wrinkles and scars. We look to be loved, not to love in return. Lovely, wise Rita reminds us that we are defined by who we love, not who loves us. “I’m happier when I love you, not when you love me or not. You don’t even need to participate and I can still be happy.”