A Six Word Question
To love, or to be loved?
The other night I caught an interview on TV (set up by Oprah, on her network) between Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman. In it, Nicole asked Russell “Would you rather love or be loved?” I thought it was an intriguing question, although a bit obscure. If I had asked it, I likely would have reworded it as, “Are you better at loving, or being loved?”
Everyone has their own approach to love. Some people seek it as if it’s the ‘holy grail’ of life. Others avoid it for fear of being irreparably hurt (no one wants a broken heart). Others assume more of a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude towards love. But as I listened to Russell’s answer (he said he was better at being loved) and Nicole’s (when Russell turned the question back at her, she said she was better at loving), I decided it was a question that deserved some additional thought.
Take my husband (please … no, just kidding; he’s a keeper) – he is better at being loved than at loving (I don’t think I’d be wrong in suggesting that he’s truly loved only four people in his life – his mother, his aunt, his son, and me). And while I am absolutely sure of his love for me (he demonstrates it subtly but regularly), others might question (and some have) how I can live with a man who is so ‘reserved’ when interacting with others. I could put on my psychologist’s hat (if I had one) and come up with a whole raft of ‘reasons’ why he is the way his is, but the point is, actually, just that – he is who he is and so long as he’s okay with being loved (by those of us who do, in fact love him), then it’s all good.
I, on the other hand, love freely and openly and probably too much and too often. I’m a natural born ‘giver’ and ‘nurturer’. I love my husband, my boys, their girlfriends, my family of origin (even the ones who treat me cruelly), my friends, my cats, my sponsored donkeys, the squirrels who come to the door every day for peanuts, the racoons that poop in my backyard, the skunk who is determined to live under my shed, and all the other critters of the natural world (except maybe centipedes – they’re too fast and creepy-crawly to really love). I used to love (as in ‘want to protect and nurture’) the students (the thousands of them) that I taught in College. The ‘problem’ (if you will) with loving so expansively is that you often don’t love yourself quite enough, and so you tend to ‘deflect’ the love that is given (back) to you. I suppose the old adage ‘it is better to give than receive’ applies here!
How about you? Would you say you are better at loving or at being loved? I’d love to hear from you, whether or not you’re on … the other side of 55.