All you need is love… and John Steinbeck

I will never be the book-worm that I believe I am in my head. I currently have six books stacked up on my bedside table and have only read 30 pages of  the one on top in the last three months. One of my major goals this summer is to read some damn books, and not just those cheeky British romantic comedies I adore escaping into. I want to read some classics! I want to read something uplifting, something magical, something that will win me money in the “Literature” category on Jeopardy some day. Basically, I want to finish East of Eden by John Steinbeck because it’s been haunting me since the summer of 2004… I’ll save that story for another day, but lets keep going with John Steinbeck shall we? Not only was this man one of the greater authors of his time, he had the most insightful and reasonable opinions on our favorite four letter word, LOVE!  Who would have thought, right!?

The other night while battling insomnia, a friend of mine posted a status on Facebook that sounded like the greatest advice all time. I googled the quote (typical) and to my surprise, was lead to a letter written by none other than Mr. Steinbeck himself.  This letter was a response to his son Thomas’ letter about a young lady he had fallen for in boarding school. Thomas apparently asked his father for advice and the reply was, excuse the sap – BEAUTIFUL.

I can’t say that I am the luckiest in love, so my side gig as a relationships writer baffles me just as much as it should baffle you. I try to be reasonable and positive in life and in love though, and when giving advice to others I TRY to apply both of these principles if I can. Maybe this is the secret to my success, or even better the keys to my future. Whatever this little nugget of love may be, it’s good stuff if your heart is in the right place. I’m keeping these as words of encouragement and truth for myself, and hopefully you can apply them to your life as well. I put my favorite  parts in bold. Enjoy 🙂

New York
November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First—if you are in love—that’s a good thing—that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second—There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply—of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it—and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone—there is no possible harm in saying so—only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another—but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

Love,

Fa

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