The greatest love of allJanuary 16, 2013
In early 1986 a wonderful thing happened. Whitney Houston released a song that resonated to the souls of a bunch of siblings belonging to a tiny mother in northern Indiana. As each of us heard the song on the radio we called that little woman. You know her as Grandma Beanie. We called to tell her to listen for the song that she, herself, could have written. We wanted her to understand that we got it, her lesson had lit fire to our minds and pierced our hearts. Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love of All was the perfect musical reminder for us, and a conveyance of that lesson to others, we hoped.
The first time I heard the song I was driving down Cleveland Road when, while listening, something happened to my vision. It became blurry and I thought I would have to pull over to the side of the road. Instead, I let the blurring well up within my eyes and fall as tears of joy that I was hearing something Beanie had taught us, something important, something that seemed to be missed by so many.
Grandma Beanie had long told us about the need to love ourselves and that, indeed, we could not love anyone else UNTIL we loved ourselves, for we would have no understanding of love, no love to give. That was one of the most profound lessons of my life. It was also among the most difficult to comprehend, and the final understanding was hard won.
Grandma Beanie’s words were simple: “You can’t love anyone else until you love yourself.” I had to dig a little deeper to have those words penetrate my mind. I had to prove to myself that within the contemporary world, her words were still golden as they had seemed to be when I first heard them. I did learn that they were golden words, and that they would always remain so.
It’s difficult to live in a world that tells one to be what is perceived as selfless in order to be accepted. It makes no sense. Self preservation argues against such logic. The root of the word selfless argues against such logic, for without a self, what have we to offer?
There is no shame in recognizing and loving our self, though that is what most of us are taught. I find the terms selfish and self-centered confusing due to their negative definitions and the pall they cast over a common root: the self.
The term self-absorbed better defines a person whose outlook is centered around me first (and sometimes me only).
Our self is our foundation. It is the building block upon which we build the rest of our world. It is the rock upon which sits all of our caring, compassion and empathy. Develop it. Love it, and then share it. Never deny it.