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Alain De Botton On Healing

Sadness comes like the wind, or a sudden sickness that demands bedrest, but some days it’s purely inarticulable. The sick mind journeys our memory for every mistake, anxieties, and shameful act that aims to make our body sicker with guilt. Then comes a lover that kisses our sickly lips, stroking the pain from our backs, while they sit silently without our presence that we are healed through visibility. Visibility is being seen fully, and loved within the totality of our emotions; to allow someone to embrace the aspects of our personality that we consider shameful. Alain De Botton On Healing guides us on the path of loving without shame.

A love that comforts when trauma dominates our memory. A love that allows us to exist within the things we deem unlovable, and given the distance to expand as our complexities demand. The purpose of art is to represent the people within a particular time, and offer the reflection that allows them to overcome themselves. On Love, By Alain De Botton, examines our relationship to love, and recreates scenes directly from our lives:

Late one Sunday in the middle of July, we were sitting in a café at the unkempt end of the Portobello Road. It had been a beautiful day, spent largely in Hyde Park, tanning and reading books. But since around five o’clock, I had been sliding into depression. I felt like going home to hide under the bedclothes. Sunday evenings had long saddened me, reminders of death, unfinished business, guilt, and loss.

We had been sitting in silence, Chloe reading the papers, I gazing through the window at the traffic and people outside. Suddenly she leaned over, gave me a kiss, and whispered, ‘You’re wearing your lost orphan boy look again.’ No one had ever ascribed such an expression to me before, though when Chloe mentioned it, it at once accorded with and alleviated the confused sadness I happened to be feeling at the time. I felt an intense (and perhaps disproportionate) love for heron account of that remark, because of her awareness of what I had been feeling but had been unable to formulate myself, for her willingness to enter my world and objectify it for me – a gratefulness for reminding the orphan that he is an orphan, and hence returning him home.

Alain De Botton On Healing
Alain De Botton On Healing

The recognition, and acceptance, of our totality begins to renew our souls, for we discover our lovability. We learn that if our lovers can embrace every thing we conceal then so can we. Healthy, loving, communion brings wholeness; there are no devastating parts of our character when there is someone willing to embrace us. Alain De Botton continues speaking on the healing that happens during visibility saying:

What does it mean that man is a ‘social animal? Only that humans need one another in order to define themselves and achieve self-consciousness, in a way that mollusks or earthworms do not. We cannot come to a proper sense of ourselves if there aren’t others around to show us what we’re like. ‘A man can acquire anything in solitude except a character,’ wrote Stendhal, suggesting that character has its genesis in the reactions of others to our words and actions. Our selves are fluid and require the contours provided by our neighbors. To feel whole, we need people in the vicinity who know us as well, sometimes better, than we know ourselves.

Alain De Botton On Healing
Alain De Botton On Healing

Our lovers reveal our complete selves, providing the comfort, and smile, that encourages us to embrace our totality. We develop a new relationship to self love, for the smile we hide behind, the façade we construct, and masks we build become pointless relics of an ancient past. Healing begins in the balance between aloneness and communion. Where we once longed, or suffered, in silence we find a balance between suffocation and solitude. Allowing our lovers to experience us vulnerable and complete. My parents told me, “Never let them see you cry”, in order to protect me from the people that could use my emotions against me. The “they” was never defined, so I took that assumption into all my lovers, but partners that consoled me and encouraged expression allow my tears to flow knowing they would always provide their hands. We become ourselves through love as Alain De Botton says:

Without love, we lose the ability to possess a proper identity. Within love, there is a constant confirmation of our selves.

Alain De Botton On Healing

We long for a love in which we are never reduced or misunderstood. We have a morbid resistance to classification by others. To others placing labels on us. To ourselves, we are after all always un-labelable. When alone, we are always simply ‘me’, and shift between sides of ourselves effortlessly. Without the constraints imposed by the preconceptions of others.

Some people have the power to liven our sacral chakra. Encouraging a level of authenticity only matched by lovers of 66 years. Others spark a desire to create a imagined self–a self manipulated to gain the desire of the lover. When that love is discovered, it must be cherished, nurtured, and allowed to blossom within our authentic selves. Love comes under the philosophical microscope. An entire chapter is devoted to the nuances and subtexts of an initial date. Another chapter mulls over the question of how and when to say ‘I love you’. Continue reading Alain De Botton On Acceptance.

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