On Falling in Love

It’s springtime. And John Steinbeck has some advice:

First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing.

Just in time for the season, a dear friend passed along to me Steinbeck’s beautiful letter on love. He’s responding to a letter in which his oldest son confesses that he has fallen in love for the first time.  The elder Steinbeck is simple and true:  Falling in love is “about the best thing that can happen to anyone.”

Sure.  But can’t it also be the worst?  Is there anything that we can be more neurotic about?   Think Romeo and Juliet.  We all can — who am I kidding? — we all will do stupid things for love.  In the words of Avril Lavigne, it’s “so complicated.

I mean, how do we even know when we’re truly in love?  Steinbeck has no such worries:

[[True love]] 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.

When love does that to us, we know that it is true.  And Steinbeck knows that love does even more than that, drawing out “strength and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.”

So when we find more strength and courage and goodness than we knew we had, what then? What do we do with the surprising strength of love?  What does this “most powerful and still most unknown energy in the world” demand from us?

Steinbeck’s equally succinct:

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

It’s springtime.  Savor the love.

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