So I'm finally reading Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I don't know why it's taken me so long to get to it... maybe I thought I'd lust too much after the travels the author writes about, maybe I was just reluctant to buy my own copy instead of waiting to borrow a friend's, maybe I am having a hard time getting into books the past couple years in this quick & dirty information culture, maybe I am lazy... probably all of the above.
But finally I opened it, and within a few chapters knew I should probably buy my own copy since some major highlighting and underlining was going to be in order. The author's voice; her thought process and method of conveying her realizations and lessons, sounded immediately familiar to me... I recognize my own heart within her writing, even though throughout her narrative it's obvious that she has quite a different personality from me (way more extroverted, more ambitious but less cautious with herself & others, and more neurotic but certainly smarter).
If you haven't read it or if you have, I want to submit something more worthy of your reading this post than just my joy in reading and loving the book.
Elizabeth says in Chapter 50 of the "Pray" section, "I met an old lady once, almost one hundred years old, and she told me, 'There are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history. How much do you love me? And Who's in charge?'... Everything else is somehow manageable. But these two questions of love and control trip us up and cause war, grief, and suffering."
I've thought all the way around this and can't find many conflicts that don't fit under those two questions. And in personal relationships, it rings so true. When I think about conflicts I've seen or experienced within families, in the classroom, between friends, and in romantic relationships... what else do our battles boil down to? I'm positive that the reason I have great relationships with both my mom and dad is because they made consistently clear to me the answers to both of those questions (which for each parent were: 1)I love you beyond measure 2) I'm in charge!)
I think it is of particular note that the love question isn't whether a person loves you, but how much. Most of us are lucky enough to be loved to some degree by our family, friends, and partner, and to have some awareness of that love, but I think it is a beautiful and essential thing to know within a relationship just how much you are cared about... When the question of how much is made clear and is sufficient, that's where the most healthy, fulfilling and lasting relationships are found. When the question is left unanswered or is not sufficient, therein lies resentment, dissatisfaction, argument, and sometimes broken relationships.
So, friends and family, I love you all very much. As for who's in charge, well, you can be. Except for when I want to be.