A wise father’s advice about love

Jul 29, 2018

Many are the times I seek shelter in the words of those far more talented than me.

My notebook, as rumpled as I sometimes feel, is rarely far from my grasp. I copy snippets of conversation, passages from books I particularly like, or morsels of wisdom gathered in places and times I no longer recall – but I recall this one.  I was young and in need of sound advice. I found it here, in a letter John Steinbeck wrote to his son in 1958.

Dear Thom,

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First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release

in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

Glory in it and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

Love,

Fa

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