A girl I’d had a crush on died a few days ago. I don’t know how she died, exactly. Found out on Facebook.
I’d made some half-hearted attempts to ask her out, but the stars never really aligned. It’s a boring, mundane story I won’t talk about.
Instead I want to talk about her, and what I realized from thinking about her more after her death.
She was somewhat…sheltered, in the way that someone from a tight, loving family can be, and can afford to be. She’d said she wouldn’t kiss anyone until marriage, for instance. This is laughable to most women (and men)—but remember, you only need one guy. But it wasn’t just that. She treated people like they were good, as if the idea that they could be anything else never crossed her mind.
She was pretty. Not gorgeous, but pretty. Prettier still in memory.
But it’s that shelteredness I want to talk about.
From a tactical perspective, delicacy and fragility are strictly weaknesses. And being sheltered prevents you from receiving feedback, making you more vulnerable over the long term. No man should aspire to these.
But competence and usefulness have—design constraints. Gaining them changes you. For men, they are necessary changes. But not everything necessary is entirely good. There’s often a cost. A favorite saying of mine: “Each man is a little war.” If so, each man bears the scars of that war.
I would be remiss if I failed to include this passage from Return of the King:
‘But,’ said Sam, and tears started in his eyes, ‘I thought you were going to enjoy the Shire, too, for years and years, after all you have done.’
[Frodo replied,] ‘So I thought too, once. But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.
There are some virtues that independence precludes. Untroubled sleep, carefree enjoyment, an easy smile, reflexive kindness, innocent trust. Beautiful, impractical clothing. Faith in another. Goodness without power.
These are sacred, holy things, and we must treat them with care.