September 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

At every stage of life, we desire to be noticed and affirmed by others. Infants are born craving affection as much as milk. Children playing do not require the active involvement of nearby adults, but if you try to leave they demand that you watch them play. Adolescents, in their perpetual anxiety to be popular, do not so much look at others through their own eyes as look constantly at themselves through others’ eyes. Those who are dying worry about being remembered after death, though when dead, how can they care if they’re forgotten? As adults, our successes give us little pleasure unless sweetened by others’ admiration. If we dress up, there must be others to see us or our work seems wasted — no one wears a tuxedo at home. A marvelous gardener once told me (speaking for human nature) that he takes more delight in a single garden visitor’s compliment than in all the shrubs and flowers he has ever planted. What is this craving for another’s eye to rest upon us?

Upon reflection, a desire for recognition seems irrational. Since we live in our own minds, why should we care what thoughts are in the minds of others? Is this not like a Canadian fretting about the weather in Mexico? How to explain this need for notice is debatable. Are we so doubtful of our worth that others must attest to it? Conversely, are we so certain of our worth that others must bow down to it?

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