Steinbeck: On Love

Late 1958, John Steinbeck’s son, Thom, wrote to his parents from boarding school telling them he had fallen in love. These extracts are taken from his father’s reply, sent from New York on 10 November 1958.

First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.
Second — 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…
Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.
The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it…
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…
If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

Steinbeck: A Life in Letters, edited by Elaine Steinbeck and Robert Wallsten

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