Samara O'Shea

There are Several Kinds of Love

I was astounded when I came across this letter from John Steinbeck to his son Thom. Thom, a teenager at the time, wrote his father and told him he was in love with a girl named Susan. John wrote his son back with a thorough and beautiful explanation of and celebration of love. I recommend reading the whole letter. Below are the parts that spoke to me most:

“There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.”

“If you love someone—there is no possible harm in saying so—only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.”

“It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another—but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.”