As a teenager, I thought my greatest pleasure
would come from the admiration and love of a man. Then, all my disappointments,
the complaints I had about other people, and my own self-doubt would disappear!
At 19, I met
Mark while I was working part-time in the record dept. at Sears & Roebuck;
he was in the shipping dept., and told me he had been admiring me for weeks.
We began to date. Mark was good-looking and very flattering, telling
me soon that I meant more to him than any other woman he'd known.
I saw myself as very special, and that I was indispensable to him.
And I remember feeling a rush of power when he worriedly asked me, after
I'd taken the bus home from work, if I'd looked at any other man out the
window. I felt glorious for a while, but I also had growing misgivings.
Why was I at one moment on top of the world, and at the next empty as hell?
All this praise, I felt dimly, was not really about me, and I secretly
felt Mark was foolish and easily deceived. But instead of trying
to be honest about my feelings, I acted pleased and kidded him along.
In his lecture, Mr. Siegel explained:
This is what I felt. After 2-1/2 years,
I ended our relationship. I felt very mean, and hated myself, and
for years I worried that I didn't have the ability to really love anyone.
Any person who expects to get somebody
or something and really not be disappointed in the having of it—that is,
have it truly—without wanting to know it and the world from which it comes,
will not succeed….We cannot play politics with our desires. On the
one hand, we want people to like us, and on the other hand we are not after
the true cause of their liking us: we really are asking for disappointment;
we really never feel we deserve to be liked.
Then by great good
fortune, I learned about Aesthetic Realism and began to study it.
in an early class I attended, Mr. Siegel asked me questions that opened
my eyes and enabled my disappointment to become useful self-questioning
and education. "Do you think," he asked, "your chief hurt in life
is because you have two motives: justice and glorification?" "Yes,"
I answered. And he explained, "justice should always win over glorification....To
have the purpose of being interested in someone to glorify [oneself] is
hideous. Should [one] see a person to glorify [one]self or to see
the whole world better?" In another class he said: "the greatest
repression is our desire to be just to what is not ourselves, and he asked:
"Do you know how great the instinct to be just is in you?" I answered vaguely,
"It's larger than I know." "You make it boring," he said. "Is this
true or not—your greatest desire is to be just to something outside yourself.
As soon as you know a person you should have a tremendous desire to be
just to that person!"
This was new, and
I felt relieved and hopeful, solidly hopeful. The motive I'd had
with men looked small, and I saw there was something far more glorious
that I wanted, which Mr Siegel had articulated: to "have a tremendous desire
to be just to [a] person." This is the one purpose that can never
Mr. Siegel once said,
“To love anything or anybody, you have to see this as a beginning of love
for all things.” today I love and respect a man, my husband Michael
Palmer, and I'm happy to say I do see this "as a beginning of love for
in an American Novel Comments on Our Subject
A character who shows a woman's hope to be
disappointed, is Aunt Polly in the classic book Pollyanna, written
in 1913 by Eleanor H. Porter. Polly is a sour woman, who doesn't
like things and doesn't want to--she wants to be disappointed. Early
in the book, she is described "as a stern, severe-faced woman who frowned
if a knife clattered to the floor, or if a door banged—but who never thought
to smile even when knives and doors were still." In other words,
when things go well, she's disappointed. Some twenty years previously,
she had been courted by Dr. Thomas Chilton, who had proposed marriage.
Then there was a quarrel and relations were severed, and she's been miserable
ever since, "feedin' on wormwood an' thistles…" Porter writes, "she's that
bitter an' prickly ter deal with."
here for Part 3