The question can be hard or easy to answer depending on who you ask. For me though the story of Leonard told in his own words is probably one of the strongest that really captures many sides of what makes us human.
He will tell it himself:
Leonard: “I remember my stepfather would beat me with extension cords and hangers, pieces of wood and all kinds of stuff. After every beating he would tell me:
“You know it hurt me more than it did you. I only did it, because I love you.”
It communicated the wrong message to me about what love was. So, for many years, I thought that love was supposed to hurt. I hurt everyone that I loved. I measured love by how much pain someone would take from me. And it wasn’t until I came to prison, in an environment that is devoid of love, that I began to have some sort of understanding about what it actually was and was not.
I met someone. She gave me my first real insight into what love was because she saw past my condition and the fact that I was in prison with a life sentence not only for murder, but for doing the worst kind of murder that a man can do: murdering a woman and a child.
And it was Agnes….the mother and grandmother of…Patricia and Chris, the woman and child that I murdered, who gave me my best lesson about love. By all rights, she should hate me. But she didn’t.
Over the course of time and through the journey that we took…it has been pretty amazing…she gave me love…She taught me what it was…”
We are fragile and though, we break and are indestructible, passionate and numb, love, hate, fight, search and also don’t care. We can be on one extreme and then go to the other and then come back to the middle. We have an immense capacity to be more than what anyone else says we can and yet we reduce ourselves to less than what those around us push us to be. We love with the fullness of our hearts and can even destroy ourselves and ignore the self-preservation instinct put in us for the object of our love, even if it is inanimate. We are absurd, but also indescribably beautiful. Weird and unique. We have the whole spectrum.
I watched a movie recently, it’s called Human. It touched me, it made me think about all the other people around me, not just near but far. Of my actions in their context and my intentions, my world. Most are not part of my world, because I have chosen so through the course of time, so far. Imagine for a second that you had to care about every single living human, and to love them and to take care of them. Unbearable. Useless thought? I don’t think so. In my opinion it brings things into a very sharp and unmistakable contrast. It sears on you the understanding of how valuable those around you are and how much you have in the ability to give them. In other words, being able to give to only few is an opportunity, a priceless one. You can throw it away, ignore it or use it.
I highly recommend watching the movie, here is a link to volume 1.
If you like it, maybe you will enjoy the soundtrack here on Spotify.