Nothing Good Gets Away

I have worked with college age adults since, I was, well, just barely no longer a college age adult myself.  And while not chronologically that many  years ahead of them; I’d had life experiences that set me apart in ways that felt like light years. Some days, I would hear little pangs within myself; little pangs of envy at what seemed so simple, so fresh, so ready for possibility. I was putting things back together for me, so to speak, and at the same time helping them find their way.  I realized years later how we truly helped each other.

Along with programs and events, my work entailed just spending time, talking, listening. Hearing their worries. It ranged from homesickness, to college majors, which fork in the spiritual path to follow; quiet conversations about where families went wrong and the years of wondering how to cope.  Some made progress; for some the struggle continued. With each student, I would listen; we’d laugh. I knew a lot of stories.

The most consistent lament that stood at the threshold of my office was that of love; it hadn’t arrived, it had gone wrong already, it had shown up and then went away.  It was unrequited; I knew one young man who so painstakingly tried to pursue each of three beautiful young women, sisters,  who one by one all came to attend this same university. As each one arrived in her freshman year, I saw his heart expand with a little bit more hope each time, only to be dashed. I also often witnessed the exquisite joy when two sets of eyes met and never looked away and the great weddings in subsequent years.

I remember a few young women in particular who were just heartsick that the completion of their ‘Mrs. Degree’ was not going according to their much anticipated plans. Having been bounced around a bit, in the love department; I wanted them to realize that there is no rush. That they had so much good in their lives and to not come at this with fears of never and what-ifs.  I ended up coming up with a phrase I ultimately used over and over; if you gotta hurry, you gotta worry. What’s the rush I would ask them. Why the need to fast track this?

I think all of us want to know what’s coming next.

The other day, a friend of mine updated her Facebook status to say:  “Why is waiting so hard?”  I don’t have any idea if she was waiting for medical results, a pizza delivery or the departure day for a special trip.  But her question caught my attention.

I think we all push the envelope in terms of wanting some kind of security in our lives; and for many of us, the security is in the knowing.

We are rewarded these days, by being in a hurry all of the time, and rushing on to the next big thing, rarely allowing ourselves to even fully realize, much less enjoy or savor that which we finished.   TV and media of all kinds reinforce this quick pace and so when things move slowly, or perhaps seemingly not at all; I think it’s safe to say that we all struggle somewhat with not knowing what’s around the next corner; or what things mean, exactly.

We often want it all spelled out for us.

Another way of saying, perhaps, how difficult it is sometimes to just wait. No matter the reason for waiting – news, good or bad, a special day, a blossoming romance to blossom, wondering if we got the job – I love both the knowing and the wisdom found in the words that John Steinbeck wrote to his son more than 50 years ago, with sage advice in the form of an eloquent and intimate letter between father and son, about the importance of not being in a hurry…

New York November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

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.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply—of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it—and that I can tell you.

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.

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.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

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.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.



Source:  Letters of Note & Brain Pickings

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27 thoughts on “Nothing Good Gets Away

  1. So beautiful and rich! You have let your experiences enrich your life, Bonnie, where I’ve seen others let things drag them down. I’d say you found a good fit careerwise.

    lol, not wanting to wait. Already my 11-year-old is thinking about wanting a boyfriend. I was glad to hear that a female phy ed teacher gave her class a talking-to (apparently the girls had been discussing guys A LOT), telling them not to focus on romantic relationships so much and to put their energies into friendships. Those romance things happen when they happen, though I do remember wanting that security. And now that I have it? haha, I want to shake things up and live a little 😉

    Like the hurry/worry quote. Amen to that. Funny, as I remember my mom scolding me often for always trying to rush relationships. And now–at age 40+–I get it! haha.

    Side note: Fabio taught a cooking class at the same school my daughter and I teach at. (he’s the popcorn guy, right?) Thought of you 🙂 (we didn’t attend the class)

    Anyhoo, thanks for another lovely post.


    • Hi, thank you so so much, your comment means a lot to me. If nothing else, it’s something that has always been a part of me – that if even the most difficult times can inform me, teach me, then it is all worth it. And I do love my students.

      I can’t believe that 11 yr olds are THAT boy crazy already. I was so shy…hadn’t hit me at 11. And romance at 11..omg!

      The hurry/worry principle is still in play, I find myself referring to it more than I realize in many circumstances. Just a mantra to remind myself to try and remain in the moment, not worry about things I can’t fix/change/influence anyway. and yes, security vs. mystery: in some ways, we always want the security, but now we know there is a whole flip side to it!

      You DIDN’T go see Fabio? What is wrong with you!? Just kidding 🙂 Would probably be fun!


  2. Where do you get this beautiful stuff, Bonster? You, whether you like it or not, are a preacher woman!


    • It’s all just ‘in there’ somehow and somedays some of it bubbles up. As long as I can preach from my keyboard, I am fine being a preacher woman! 🙂 Thank you…so much.


    • Hi Maria…I hope the waiting is not for too much longer … I’m glad you found some resonance here. His letter and message is just prefect. Timeless really.


  3. Just awesome..what a letter for a son to receive from his dad…what pause this allows so give a little gratitude for the waiting. Love this BonBon..


    • I agree, Mims, a beautiful letter that must have mirrored an amazing relationship between him and his son, and it seems, him and most of those close in his circle. Gratitude for the waiting, I like how you put that. xoxo


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