We can measure the quality of our lives by the relationships of mutual inspiration we’ve cultivated. These are the relationships that allow us to trust life. They are the very foundation of joy. Without such inspiration, any love will wither. And without these relationships, we too will wither, reverting to smaller, more defensive and wounded versions of ourselves. Humans are a lot like rubber bands: we shrink to a small, comfortable size unless we’re held to greater expansion by forces outside our ourselves. Relationships of inspiration expand us to a size we could never achieve alone.
These relationships are not only the path to love; they are the path to our own greatness. Through them we can find a way past the fears and wounds that dwarf us. Popular psychology tells us that we can only love others if we love ourselves first. But the real truth is often the other way around: until we feel seen and loved in the places we’re most vulnerable (usually the places of our deepest gifts), few of us will ever be able to fully love ourselves. That’s the great boon of relationships of inspiration. We experience our loved one seeing into our very core — and valuing what he sees. In the wake of this experience comes a sense of bravery, an innate desire to share our gifts — not out of obligation but from a sense of joyful overflow. And that makes us into just the kind of person we are looking for — one who inspires others simply by being who she is.
— Ken Page, Deeper Dating, p. 90-91
[Photo: Rhein River, Germany, as seen from Burg Rheinstein, July 1997]