Steinbeck once told his son who had recently fallen in love, “And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens - The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.”
The first time I read his affectionate letter in 2012 although I was enamored, I completely disagreed with him. His advice seemed counter-intuitive to me. After all, I had grown up in an era where everything worthwhile was worth having immediately and completely. I needed to hurry. I needed to win. There was no nuance or subtlety about this fact because it meant if I couldn’t have something, someone else would beat me to it. An unfavorable outcome was not only unacceptable but also shameful because it equated my inability to win with inadequacy.
All of us grow up with varying degrees of this competitive mindset and it irks me that we breeze through life and its wonders for the sake of speed, convenience or satisfaction. Our approach to love and kindness is the same as sport or money: only victory is glorious and absolute. I know this isn’t right. In fact, we all do but it’s hard to call out bullshit like this when the only way you can grow your self-worth today is by being successful. I’ve failed at many things many times in my life already. And every year I add to this list. Does that make me less of a man or more? Does it limit my capacity or expand it? It is ultimately what I make of it. And the same holds true for our ability to practice and celebrate love in our lives.