Thursday, June 9

The Coward Stamp

I received a link in one of my Facebook groups that pointed to an article by Jonathan Franzen published as an op-ed in the New York Times. Its title was "Liking is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts." I have yet to fully bite the article and grasp the many things it pointed out but let me share with you some parts that struck me most.

1. That being liked is often an obstacle to being loved.

"The simple fact of the matter is that trying to be perfectly likable is incompatible with loving relationships. Sooner or later, for example, you’re going to find yourself in a hideous, screaming fight, and you’ll hear coming out of your mouth things that you yourself don’t like at all, things that shatter your self-image as a fair, kind, cool, attractive, in-control, funny, likable person. Something realer than likability has come out in you, and suddenly you’re having an actual life."

2. That trying to please everyone and keeping the peace may in fact be a reflection of a deep-seated self-centeredness, narcissism even.

"This is not to say that love is only about fighting. Love is about bottomless empathy, born out of the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are. And this is why love, as I understand it, is always specific. Trying to love all of humanity may be a worthy endeavor, but, in a funny way, it keeps the focus on the self, on the self’s own moral or spiritual well-being. Whereas, to love a specific person, and to identify with his or her struggles and joys as if they were your own, you have to surrender some of your self."

3. That pain is an integral part of human existence (suddenly, the Goo Goo Dolls sing in my head, "Yeah you bleed just to know you're alive.").

"And yet pain hurts but it doesn’t kill. When you consider the alternative — an anesthetized dream of self-sufficiency, abetted by technology — pain emerges as the natural product and natural indicator of being alive in a resistant world. To go through a life painlessly is to have not lived. Even just to say to yourself, 'Oh, I’ll get to that love and pain stuff later, maybe in my 30s' is to consign yourself to 10 years of merely taking up space on the planet and burning up its resources. Of being (and I mean this in the most damning sense of the word) a consumer."

4. And that loving in spite of the hurt, celebrates what is in fact our borrowed time on earth.

"Which is what love will do to a person. Because the fundamental fact about all of us is that we’re alive for a while but will die before long. This fact is the real root cause of all our anger and pain and despair. And you can either run from this fact or, by way of love, you can embrace it."

So from now on, I guess the only resolution is to just keep on loving and living, to take chances and risks and allow ourselves to be vulnerable for it is in exposing the entirety of ourselves - faults, disagreeable tendencies and all - that we allow other people to love us in the truest sense of the word. Something that goes beyond liking and merely existing.

PS: The article escapes me but I've also read somewhere that an indicator of a troubled relationship is when you keep things and issues to yourself because you fear that it will cause argument between you and your partner. I guess honesty and acceptance do take precedence over keeping an erstwhile "imagined" sense of peace.


  1. love this post. relate much lang :)

  2. things we get from the internet. hehe :P

  3. I like the numbered stuff: they are so true.
    But I like your post-script more. As in, I really can relate to that one.

    Once upon a time (lol) my gf and I had an agreement that there should be no reservations, having that PS for the reason..