Love is a choice. It’s an action. Oh pheromones may draw us to each other. Or maybe a certain look, but over time, it’s a choice. By that I don’t mean choosing to stay in a relationship–it’s that of course–but the real choice, the transfiguration that happens in families, in great friendships, and with love is the one where you accept and see the limitations and flaws of the other person and know that even though they’re limited, even though they sometimes frustrate and anger you, they are enough.
The transfiguring doesn’t happen right away. It isn’t easy either. As Rilke says, “For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation.” (Letters to a Young Poet #7). It helps if you’ve done the work and have a working sense of your limits, flaws. Knowing them, you still see yourself as whole.
Anais Nin’s wisdom rings true, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Or as we are not. Today I saw a postcard that said, “Throwback Thursday, that picture you took twenty pounds ago when you wished you’d taken more pictures of yourself before you were fat.” We don’t see people as they are. We see age, disability, orientation, color, creed, weight, and class. As Annie Dillard notes in Pilgim at Tinker Creek, “What you see is what you get.” As with a lot of things, Transfiguring begins with you.
Here’s a neat transfiguration story I first encountered moons ago, in Scott Peck’s book The Different Drum. Who said how long? It is so long ago that if I were to tell you how long, I’d have to cough as I did. You know, so you wouldn’t hear me (and I wouldn’t hear myself).
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