On Feb 14th we celebrated Valentine’s Day – a day on which we send cards, flowers, and chocolates to let the important people in our lives know that we love them. As I reflected on this holiday in light of Hirschfield's last three chapters – chapter eight, “Learning That You Don’t Have to Disconnect Because You Disagree,'” chapter six, “A Person’s a Person, No Matter How Small: Talking About the Things That Matter Most in the Way That Hurts the Least;” and chapter ten, “Footprints of the Messiah: Turning Our Deepest Dreams into an Everyday Reality” – which focus on staying connected, both to others and to our dreams, it struck me that Valentine’s Day would mean so much more if it were extended.
What if we imagined a celebration that involved giving the gift of love to ourselves and to humanity in general, with a particular emphasis on those parts of ourselves we see as the least valid or likeable (our Shadow) or those individuals/groups with whom we have fundamental disagreements? It is difficult to truly love another if we don’t cherish our whole selves. I believe that the three quotes below both identify the hurdles we face as well as suggest ways to surmount them.
• Without a level of self-understanding that encompasses our strengths and our inadequacies, it is challenging to step into the shoes of another.
“I began to realize that until I was ready to confront myself, I had no business confronting anyone else – that prayer, whatever else it was, was an exercise in that confrontation with who I was and who I wanted to be.” (p. 195)
• Without careful scrutiny of the assumptions that underlie our worldview, it is hard to recognize that our evaluations – positive and negative, of self and others – while authentic, are only based on partial information.
“[I]t may be that what you saw was not all that there was to see. It may be that you are confusing honesty and integrity with accuracy and completeness.” (p. 245-246)
• Without a willingness to accept that people, ourselves included, make mistakes, it is tough to share feedback in a way that comes from a place of love and makes possible transformation.
“Even when punishment is required, it is designed to change a specific behavior or attitude, not to strip a person of his or her power or independence, or to change who he or she is.” (p. 223)
I want to close this entry and the series as a whole with a quote from the final page of the main text of You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right. The set of questions posed in this quote can be the basis for making every day a day a Valentine’s Day where the expressions of love are directed inward, to yourself, as well as outward, to significant others in your life and the world more generally.
“In what ways was I the person I most longed to be today? What helped me to get there? In what ways did I fall short? What do I need in my life in order to do better?” (p. 248)
Thanks for coming along on this journey – I hope that I have helped take you “Beyond the Book”!