Mind over MatterI recently learned something. Actually I’ve learned a lot of things recently — always do and so do you, but one thing in particular stands out. This one is about love and relationships.
By: Kevin Holten, The Dickinson Press
I recently learned something. Actually I’ve learned a lot of things recently — always do and so do you, but one thing in particular stands out. This one is about love and relationships.
You see what I’ve learned is that real love and concern is a condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own happiness. Now that might seem about as simple as two plus two, four times eight and six divided by three, but it’s not. It’s really more like 1.24 million divided by 397.
I should mention that I learned this, oddly enough, from Robert A. Heinlein who, even though he died in 1988, might be considered the dean of all science fiction writers. If he wasn’t, he was at least the most controversial fiction writer of his time and the first one to break into mainstream magazines like the Saturday Evening Post.
He didn’t just write stories, he used them to address social issues like the importance of individual liberty and self-reliance, the obligation of people to their societies, the influence of organized religion on culture and government and the tendency of society to repress nonconformist thought.
Of course, all that concerns me about as much as the gross national product of Syria, how many calories are in a McDonald’s burger and when Lindsay Lohan is going to jail next compared to this. He also said that love and concern is a healthy condition, but jealously is a disease.
That too might seem about as simple as one plus two but it’s really about as complicated as 579.5 billion divided by 9,875, or was to me and that’s because my immature mind mistook one for the other and assumed that the greater the love and concern, the greater the jealousy.
Well guess what? Crumble the foundations, roast the rooster, burn the toast and oust the president, it ain’t true. Because jealousy, like a natural gas plum, is ugly wasted energy.
Now this applies not only to a relationship between a man and a woman, but it also applies to all relationships, including friend to friend, parents to children, coach to player, manager to employee and even politicians to the people. Because all relationships are at least a cousin to love, whether their main ingredient is care and concern, respect and reverence, honor and homage, adoration and appreciation or simply the need to work together.
John Milton, the English poet, polemicist and civil servant for the Commonwealth of England once said, “The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven of Hell, and hell of Heaven.” In other words, you create a lot of your own universe, ambience, atmosphere and domain and harboring loads of jealously will guarantee that your personal province is purgatory.
Now according to psychologists, when it comes to a relationship between a man and a woman, jealousy often affects men because of a woman’s desire to be attractive. That’s because men consider this desire to be a woman’s intention to find another partner.
Psychologists also say that it is good when your partner is a bit jealous of you and it can be even romantic sometimes. But ultimately you need to understand that love means to take care of your partner, to love them, adore them, trust and believe them and to humble yourself and throw away any self-love. Only then will they see your true feelings and have an option to respond in-kind.
Of course, this also applies to the other relationships I mentioned where those things like respect, reverence, adoration and appreciation are stand-ins for love or a lesser kind of love.
So what’s the solution? Is it mind over matter?
I think it has more to do with mind expansion or as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once said, “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
Then again, maybe Malcom Forbes, the former publisher of Forbes Magazine, was closer to the point when he said, “Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.”
Or at least replace a tormented mind with a less self-focused and more trusting one.
Holten is a freelance columnist and cartoonist from Dickinson.