The Harm in Looking…

2 09 2011

What is the harm in having a favorite celebrity? Most people will reply without a thought: there is none. And in many levels this is true. Admiring the artistry of the actor, singer, performer is in a sense a good thing. But there is an aspect that can turn enjoying a celebrity into something unhealthy quite quickly. Projection coupled with our powerful imagination can harm our way of life through unrealistic expectations. Jerry Pierre writes a post, “Love the One You’re With“, concerning CS Lewis’ conviction that to have a photograph of his deceased wife Helen would be an obstacle and horror. How? Pierre elaborates:

He was terrified at the prospect of shaping Helen into a phantom of his own making. Particularly alarming was his inclination to long for certain aspects of Helen’s personality more than others. Of course he would never intentionally import something fictitious about her, but, he mused, “won’t the composition inevitably become more and more my own?” What worried Lewis most was that Helen would become to him merely an extension of himself, of his old bachelor pipe-dreams.

This theme, Pierre draws from CS Lewis’ book, A Grief Observed, and it is, in some sense, similar to how we project celebrity culture into our own lives. We pick and choose what traits and aspects of that celebrity we like and place expectation and overemphasize on our expectations of, quite possibly, others. This is most directly applicable, as Pierre also addresses, for our treatment of a significant other. We are bombarded by images, sounds, smells, tastes, and it is alright to have preferences but it would be wise to at least be aware of how we are affected by this milieu of senses. One thing to note that would be helpful is to remember the good in facing differences in a relationship. This difference and ‘resistance’ (not referring to pot-and-pan throwing conflict) as Pierre calls it anchors us to reality from our obsessions of idealism:

I mean the simple fact that your spouse is a real person whose very existence will not conform to the image you have of him or her. Spousal resistance anchors you to reality, a reality in which God calls you to love your actual spouse, not your preferred one…. As odd as it sounds, we can be thankful for the thousands of little disagreements that season the marital relationship, the countless differences of perspective that make it alive. These indicate that you are interacting with an independent being, one you’ve been entrusted with to love sacrificially.

Maybe the real reason that the 30’s is the new 20’s, at least in terms of singleness, is that we keep projecting our unrealistic created ideals instead of facing reality and owning up to commitment. The cherishing of differences is a difficult thing to do, but something that must be learned for a healthy relationship of any sort. That if we do not, we will end up like the horrific picture portrayed in The Stepford Wives. And who wants that?


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2 responses

6 09 2011
Irene Park

Funny thing generalization that I heard was that men get married thinking the women won’t change from the young beautiful appearance. Women get married thinking they can change the men.

6 09 2011
Paul Park

Yeah, we all have such foolish mentalities. I guess of primary importance is not ‘will she remain or will he change’ but ‘Am I willing to change?’

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