While I was in college, there were many things that I had to explore as an individual. Whether it was my growing desire to see the world or my decision to potentially pursue medicine, I had many different yearnings to discover myself and how I would conduct myself in this world. One of these topics was love.
When I mention love, I don’t just mean romantic love (although it fits here as well). Love, as I believed it then and I believe it now, is an attitude and set of actions that people show the world and everyone that they know, be it fiend or friend. It is something that we choose to do, whether we feel like loving (or burning) our friends, our partners, our world.
But how we show it is another matter. As I was not one to date too frequently back in college, I chose to watch my friends and acquaintances and see how they conducted their love lives. I saw couples in equal partnerships and other relationships where one partner would utterly dominate all aspects of their companion. I’ve known couples who would cycle through stages of great romance onto weeks of ignoring and belittling each other back to romance again. I’ve known people of all sides of the political persuasion and even got to become friends with people who met their significant others from across the sea. I may have not been in love myself, but that didn’t stop me from trying to learn about it.
In addition, I read about it with what little free time I had. I remembered opening my bible to 1 Corinthians 13 and wondering how well I had ascribed myself to that sort of care. I imagined myself sitting there and watching Jim and Huckleberry´s platonic affection grow and saw Mr. Darcy do his best to charm Elizabeth Bennet. As an aspiring medical student, I would read physician testimonies to find the characteristics that would lead patients to feel that they were cared for and treated with the best possible care.
And of course, I fell in love.
At some point, after everything had been said and done, I found that love, in its purest form, cannot be felt if one of its participants feel they cannot share their own individual worlds with their friends. No gifts, actions, or words of affirmation can take the place of knowing that someone accepts your eccentricities and weaknesses for what they are, regardless of what you think of them. This is not to say that you shouldn’t strive to be a better version of yourself. There is, however no lonelier feeling than feeling as if you cannot share those deepest parts of yourself, and there are few better ways to care for someone than entering those inner worlds together and embracing their intricacies. There are few ways to better care for people than to encourage them to strive for their better selves while proving that you will never stop caring for them despite what mistakes they may make along the way. Love, I’ve found, embraces people as they are right now and gives them the strength to become who they wish to be, cherishing them all along the way.
I cannot say that I am perfect in these things. I will not claim to have reached the highest echelons of love, but I must do what I can, little by little, to embody the only form of it that I have ever seen bring out the best in people. I read of God, of love everlasting, of how relationships have been salvaged and restored, and try to think of what sort of things I can do unto others.
If I leave this life having helped just a few people find the good within and achieve the potential that lies within them, then that shall be my measure of what kind of man Seth Thomas was while he lived.