I ran across a bit of dialog in a book I was reading last night – a CJ Cherryh novel, one of Fantasy/Sci-fi’s perennial greats, and in my opinion, one of the greatest writers working today (even if her recent books have been someone off her usual mark). She’s a brilliant, insightful, lyrical writer, someone who seems to understand human beings on a more deep and fundamental level that most, and someone who can take that understanding and build characters with the full, conflicted, confused richness that comes with being human.
Strangely, some of her best observations on the human heart and mind come from the point of view of non-human intelligence; as if humanity’s real nature is best seen from outside.
This quote then is from such a character, Tristan, from Cherryh’s Fortress series.
“This too: love you must have, love that come to you from outside, un-bought and unasked for. Do you understand? You cannot hold it. You cannot compel it. But you must keep it when it comes.”
“How do I keep it, then?”
This captures something that is central to the way I try to live and what I expect in others. Love isn’t a thing to be expected, assumed, compelled, or demanded. Love is something that is earned; one gains it by being deserving of it. One keeps it my striving to remain deserving.
I tried to express this the other day, and failed, and then found this quote; That, I said to myself, is exactly what I was striving for.