Monday, 29 April 2013

built on solid foundations

There is a song written by Linda Creed called "The Greatest Love of All", as a young person listening to it I often wondered about the focus of the lyrics on the self. I felt it was somehow selfish.

As I grew older I became re-acquainted with the song and (having journeyed some more in life) understood how many people suffer from problems of self worth and self respect.

While I now understand the reference to the self esteem it still seems just a prelude to the greatest love ...

Linda was (so I am told) struggling with cancer when she wrote the song lyrics, so perhaps she was going through a bit of an existential crisis (suffering from breast cancer and struggling with understanding her own mortality).  Having battled with the loss of my lovely wife and in parallel battled with my personal health issues I think I can relate to personal existential crises. From the lyrics something that resonates with me is the theme of needing to love yourself and teach others to love themselves.
I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier

I agree with so much of that. However to make what easier? For me that comes in the lines:
Everybody is searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone to fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on me
which is at the same time both profound and tragic.
It is profound because the truth is that you must love yourself before you can find strength and before you can even accept love.
It is tragic to me that so many people go through life never loving. Never loving themselves and also never feeling that love from somone else. Linda seems to have learned (from the harshness she found in life?) to depend on herself. Perhaps from that trust then came love.

Loving yourself is a truly important step, but should be the foundation for the love that comes from outside. Its like the base of the Maslow hierarchy if you will, a foundation to be built on to allow you to fulfill more in your life.

Great houses can only be built on strong foundations.

Only from the foundation of loving yourself can come the love for and from others. Without that base the love of others will fall on difficult soil. I believe that without that foundation, that accepting others love will be somehow skewed, as will the love you feel for others.

I'm glad that Linda found the love of her self, for it is a truly important step. But that she perhaps never found another to love her as she (I hope) loved herself is a tragedy. Without that it can be difficult or perhaps impossible to build a loving relationship with another. The love that my wife and I shared was built on the foundations of self respect and self love. From this we developed a relationship where love is given and love is received.

As I examine what I have lost in my wifes passing, I have come to understand just how fortunate I have been to have been able to feel that love (from her to me) and to be able to give her that love too. For no matter what has been taken away from me, I still have the love of myself and (it may seem strange) the love she gave me.
Love is made to be given, so my view is that Linda's song about the Greatest Love of All is just a prelude, a prelude to the greater love that can grow in the hearts of two people who love themselves and each other.

Learning to love your self is the first step on the road to knowing love.  I'd like to write as well as Linda, but I can't. So instead I'll just change the lines a little:

I found that the greatest love of all 
was happening to me.
I found that the greatest love of all
beside of me.
It is the greatest love of all
The song ends on a note of hope:
And if by chance, that special place
That you've been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love
Sadly now I have gone from that special place, to a lonely one. But I have some strength to face it in the love we have. I say have because it can never die.


1 comment:

Aunty Lou said...

I think self love is often the hardest to find. Building on the solid foundations of two people who are secure in their self love & self respect is like a match made in heaven - and probably rare. The current fascination with 'romance'& "perfection" seems to stifle the self development which leads to self respect. Too often we look for the perfect person who will complete us. It is hard not to when so many of us feel that we are not worthy of much - as we have discussed on a number of occasions. I acknowledge being a Work In Progress - so sometimes my relationships feel more like I am the lean-to beside the stable architecture of my other half or helpful friends. But at other times my little teepee can be a refuge, not just for me but also for others who might need some shelter. So the strong foundations may still be growing but they do let me appreciate the love I have in my life - just as you will always cherish your love with Anita.