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In the New Yorker’s September 10th Style Special issue, author Ian Parker wrote a Profile about Bjarke Ingels, a surprisingly young, enormously successful architect from Denmark. Ingels’ relationships with the architectural avant-garde, and most likely his numerous girlfriends, were suggested, according to Parker, by Ingels’ ‘beloved scene’ from the 2002 Spike Jonze movie “Adaptation” written by Charlie Kaufman.

In the movie, creative, intellectual, self-loathing Charlie has a less talented, seemingly slow-witted  ‘twin’ brother Donald, who ironically reveals the movie’s most memorable insight. Donald said that in high school he knew that a girl he liked made fun of him behind his back. “That was her business, not mine,” Donald said. “You are what you love, not what loves you.”

Expanding on this line, Ingels said, “It’s a question of what you want and not what everybody else wants. Love is about giving, not about taking… You shouldn’t aspire for appreciation – you should aspire to do what you want to put out in the world.”

I was confused. Were what you love and what you want the same? Was love about giving, not taking? And what about appreciation for what you do?

My friend Sarah Myers, author of the Noontimes, speaks about a relationship as being like meeting on a bridge, both parties approaching from either side. If one wants to stay on her side of the bridge, there is no relationship, unless the other person is allowed to intrude into one’s space – a very unhealthy state of affairs.

There are times in one’s life when it might seem that one is alone on that bridge. But, as I’ve learned in the past twenty years, one is never alone as long as one has a healthy relationship with God based on thoughtful humility rather than usurping arrogance. Meeting on a bridge is the essence of a relationship, where the give and take of wants meet love and appreciation.

While Heathcliff and I were in Connecticut, my husband adopted another shelter dog, Freya, a shepherd mix pictured here with black lab mix Heathcliff and me. Abandoned as a puppy, Freya has lived at the shelter for almost two years. With us, Freya has been quick to learn, eager to please, happy to finally have a home. And Heathcliff is happy to finally have a buddy. My husband and I and our two dogs are building relationships – a balance of what we love and what loves us, of what we want and what other members of our pack want – and living a life of gratitude, what we want to put out in the world.

What do you love and what loves you?

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