Our Lives Are Shaped. . . by John Powell
All the passages below are taken from John Powell’s book “Stories from my Heart,” published in 2001.
One of the many poster savings that I am given credit for is not really mine. It reads: “Our lives are shaped by those who love us (and this next part is mine) … and by those who refuse to love us.”
The first part of the quotation is from Lillian Roth’s biography, I’ll Cry Tomorrow. She had been an actress, a dancer, a movie star, and so forth. But she wandered into addiction and several marriages, and was dying in the gutters of this world. Then suddenly she emerged. She was on her feet again. When asked how she managed this, she replied: “Simple. I found someone who loved me.”
At this point, she uttered the now famous words on my poster: “Our lives are shaped by those who love us.”
Is this true?
Certainly, this has been my experience. Of the thousands who have sat in front of me during class-time, it is my judgment that those who were best adjusted were unconditionally loved by their parents.
The less well adjusted were the children of divorce. It was my reasoning that they knew their mothers and fathers had pledged undying love to each other “until death do us part.” But they hadn’t seen it through. The children of this experience may well presume that their parents’ enduring love for them is just as fragile. Their parents, they reason, will not see that through either.
In the end, as Erich Fromm says in his book, The Art of
Loving, they feel used, not loved.
Our lives are indeed shaped by those who love us …and by those who refuse to love us.
There was nothing I had to do. I didn’t even have to be good. I just had to be myself: I was simply loved. [29-30]