Mort Mather Author Writer Organic Farmer Philosopher Thinker Restauranteur

How to improve your life and save the world.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

How to love everybody

There are two adults in their thirties who are good citizens of the world. I have given them my love for their whole lives. I don’t think my parents ever doubted that I loved them. I have been in a loving relationship with my wife for over forty years. I have studied, thought about and written extensively about love. However, none of that makes me an expert if there is such a thing. I’m going to tell you what I have learned that is contributing considerably to what I call my profound happiness in the possibility that it may resonate with you.
Self-love is the foundation for any love. Acceptance and respect are the tools for building the foundation.
I spent a depressing hour with a paraplegic a number of years ago. I was not depressed because he had lost the use of his arms and legs but because he was so unhappy. Wouldn’t I be unhappy if I were confined to a wheelchair? I doubt I would be thrilled about my condition. If I had done it to myself, as this man had driving drunk twenty years earlier, I might be pissed at myself for my stupidity but I wouldn’t be taking it out on others. I would start with acceptance. I don’t delude myself into thinking it would be easy but the sooner I got over being angry at myself, angry at the world, hating myself and the world, the sooner I would be on the road to finding happiness.
Thinking of life as a game helps me accept my life as it is. In this case a card game works best—any card game except poker. In poker you can throw in any hand you don’t want to play but in most card games from Go Fish to Bridge you have to play the cards you are dealt. Playing a poor hand well can be very satisfying.
Paraplegia is an extreme but none of us is perfect. In our teens we tend to focus on our physical imperfections. Rather than focusing on the zits we need to step back from the mirror. I am who I am and a lot of who I am is pretty good. Others may not see it but I know I’m special. I guess that was my attitude when I was in my late teens. I remember thinking that girls who didn’t want to date me were missing something. The wonderful irony here is that I don’t even know if they didn’t want to date me because I never asked. I desperately wanted to be in the company of girls but I was too shy to initiate a relationship.
In my twenties I had a number of relationships with women; several could have been good partners in marriage. I didn’t realize why I rejected commitment then and what changed when, at 31 I asked a woman to marry me and a year after that fell apart I proposed to my wife of 40 years.
The journey from shy to beginning a stable marriage was largely unconscious. Feedback from relationships at play and at work probably built my self-confidence and self-respect, which, in turn, helped me accept myself. My “zits” disappeared as I move farther from the mirror and saw myself reflected in the impression I made on others.
My conscious effort to find happiness began a year after marriage when I found myself to be unhappy. As it was my happiness that was in question I thought the best place to look was within. I investigated what made me happy and what made me unhappy and began doing more of the former and less of the latter. I was not looking for frivolous pleasures but things I had done that I could look back on with pleasure. I found that the unhappinesses were things that prayed on my conscience or things I took to be unfair.
I won’t go into what I found rummaging around in my mind. The point is that a good place to look for happiness and love is within. One of the things to look for is anything about yourself that you find unacceptable and fix it. There are two ways to get rid of unacceptable parts of yourself—change if it is possible or accept.
For example if you masturbate and you don’t think you should, either stop masturbating or accept that it is part of who you are and that it is fine. I know some say masturbation is a sin but there are very few people between the ages of 7 and 90 who don’t masturbate. Smoking, taking alcohol or other drugs, biting your nails may be things you feel you should change to improve your self-respect. Work on them however you can. There are only two universal rules: 1) Do no harm to another living now or in the future 2) sex only between consenting adults. I say that only for someone who may have a conscience that would allow either of these.