Tuesday, August 04, 2015

The True Meaning Of Love

We need to help people discover the true meaning of Love. Love is generally confused with dependence. Those who have grown in true love know that we can love only in proportion to our capacity for independence.  ~Mister Rogers

I've been married for 28 years, all to the same woman, and I'm here to tell you it only feels like 27 years.

Jokes out of the way, I have continued to grow in my love for Jennifer throughout the three decades I've known her. I've loved her through my best and worst, and I've loved her through her best and worst. That love has changed as it's grown as all things do, but I've not once thought I might be better off -- more free, more independent, more manly -- without her. 

Admittedly, we've gone entire years when we really didn't like each other very much. I've not been happy, for instance, with directions she has chosen both personally and professionally, and I've even been mad at her, but who am I to tell her how to live her life? I might not like it, but since my connection to her is love, I support her and, thankfully, she has always done the same for me.

The love I feel for my daughter Josephine continues to grow in the same way, deepening and widening throughout the 18 years we've had together, and I regularly ask myself, who am I to tell her how to live her life? 

I mean, if you love something very much, you've got to go easy with it -- give it some room to move around. If you try to hold it tight like that, it'll always try to get away.  ~Harry Kronman

It was through my love for my parents that I learned to love my wife and daughter, and in turn through them that I've learned how to love the children I teach. I think sometimes about these people who want to boss and finagle and control what and how and when children do things. That isn't love, or at least not what I've come to understand as love. That is the idea of dependence or control. It's fundamental to all humans, every animal, to want nothing more than to be independent, out from under the control of others, to run free, to explore, to ask and answer their own questions. Hold them tight like that, and they'll always try to get away. Instead we must learn to go easy with our love and give those we love the room to move around, give them the gift of knowing that they can come and go forever: flying away and coming back then flying away again. Otherwise they just fly away the first chance they get and never return.

This is what we're doing in our schools today, taking the love out and replaced it with dependence, with grown-ups hubristically telling children how and what and when to learn. This damages children and they know it, they don't want to be harmed: that's why they want to be free.

If you want something very, very badly, let it go free. If it comes back to you, it's yours forever. If it doesn't, it was never yours to begin with. ~Jess Lair (quoting an unnamed student)

There is no greater joy than seeing those who we love act as free humans in the world. That is the meaning of love, I think, to let them go free, because freedom and love are the same thing. 

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1 comment:

Marina said...

Teacher Tom, I am so happy for all the children that come to play under your care, it simply brings tears of joy to my eyes. They are very lucky to be teachers for someone like yourself, who truly recognizes the gifts they bring us and who guides them with true love. Thank you, thank you for your work.