How Sweet The Bitter Taste


A man lies in bed dying from an affliction for which there seemed to be no cure. He mumbled to himself that he would give anything to be cured. Suddenly, an old woman appeared and offered a solution to his predicament. She handed him an elixir that he had to take every day for the rest of his life. The potion would cure the ailment, and he would live an otherwise long and healthy life. There was one caveat, however.

Each time he took the potion, it would cause pain, and there was no way to avoid it. Sometimes the pain would be very brief or barely perceptible; at other times, it would be much longer or excruciating. The duration and severity would vary depending on the circumstances. But, he would be alive and otherwise healthy. If he stopped taking it, he would definitely suffer, wither and die an arduous death.

The man agreed to swallow the potion but just before he did, he asked the old woman what was the potion. She replied, “Love.”

So goes it. Life is best lived if we love, whether we love a child, a sibling, a parent, a spouse or friend. We are genetically structured so that loving someone is what we need to do to be fully human – to express the meritorious side of our humanity. Loving someone, however, comes with a price. We expose ourselves to pain; in fact, we invite it. Pain caused by the one we love scraping her knee as a child or failing to be put in the high school homecoming game. Pain caused by the one we love being mistreated or being disappointed. Pain caused by a loved one’s broken heart or unrequited love. Not to speak of the pain caused by the one we love being sick or dying.

We love; therefore, we feel for – we empathize with – the people we love. It is almost as if we feel what they feel – sometimes even more painfully. But to stop loving is to stop living (though not necessarily to stop existing). So, we drink the potion completely knowing we will suffer pain, later or sooner. So, we drink the potion and choose the pain of loving over the pain of not loving.

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Published in: on December 1, 2015 at 7:44 PM  Leave a Comment  
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