The Secret Lives of People in Love

“The Secret Lives of People in Love” by Simon Van Booy defines instants of life and the thoughts and feelings that accompany them.

 Simon Van Booy, born in 1975, is an Anglo-American writer, currently living in the United States. His short story collection, “Love begins in Winter”, won the 2009 Frank O’Conner International Short Story Award.

Who are we without somebody?

The first thing somebody thinks about when they meet you is what do you do for a living. As if a title defines your worth. There was an interesting quote somewhere that said: “When people are asking what you do for a living, they do it to decide what level of respect to give you”. The position we have tells us nothing about our value as individuals, just our area of expertise. Nothing more, nothing less.

In “Lessons of the pack”, Cesar Millan, the famous dog trainer, talks so nicely about every animal and human being at the farm where he grew up. Each one had a rightful place. Nobody was more important than anybody because they all contributed to the well-being of the farm. Shouldn’t that be the same when it comes to humans only? We each play our part for the better of our families and communities. It’s not that one role is more important than the other. It’s about being part of something bigger than our individual needs.

Love is not about us but about what are we to others

We live our lives in communities and the most important community is made up of the people we choose to call family and friends. We are nothing without the people around us. Our value consists of our places in their lives. It’s not about us, although, at times, we seem to forget it. It’s about what we are to the people around us that matter.

All the relationships we develop with the people close to us have one common denominator: love. We care about the wellbeing of those around us to the point that we put their needs first. As Dale Carnegie says in his “How to win friends and influence people”: the key to our success, no matter what that entails for each one of us, is to find out what other people need and help them get it.

We get back what we project

There’s cannot be victory when all we talk about is loss. There cannot be love when all we talk about is hate.

The thoughts and words that we project in the outside world have a way of coming back to us, one way or another.

Some people have it wrong, thinking that their success should be the result of another’s loss. There is no success in that. As Simon Sinek says in his “Find your why”: there’s nothing wrong with getting what you want as long as you don’t prevent people from getting what they want.

“The Secret Lives of People in Love” is neither happy nor sad. It’s about moments of delight, regret, longing, and understanding. It’s the compass that we need to listen to when things don’t add up. It’s about that sixth sense Evy Pompouras talks about in her “Becoming bullet proof”.

Love means acceptance

One simple idea behind the stories of different characters is that pride doesn’t belong in a relationship of love, appreciation, and respect.

Giving the other person what they need, whether it’s a spouse, a mother, a father, a brother, or a sister, helps us grow as individuals. When times are tough, helping one another should be our only concern.

Wayne W. Dyer in his book “Wisdom of the Ages” talks about his new neighbor. The lady had just moved into the neighborhood and she was wondering how the people were there. Wayne asked her how the people in her old neighborhood were. She told him they were mean and vindictive. “Well, Wayne replied, they are the same here”. If we see only the bad side of everything, it doesn’t matter the location we are in, there will always be bad.

In one of the stories, a Russian character underlines the same idea. He doesn’t understand how some Russians, who moved to the United States, don’t seem to like Americans. He is certain that, if they go back to Russia, they will find reasons to complain about something there as well.

An unhappy person is unhappy no matter the location or the people around them.   

We are all ships heading somewhere

It’s funny how the truth finds its way even in fictional stories.  In one of the stories, “Everything is a beautiful lie”, the main character whose name we don’t know makes a meaningful statement.

“Each person is an Odysseus. All seas lead to one home or another. Each path is the best”.

Much like Simon Van Booy’s characters, we each have a story and a home to go back to. It doesn’t matter what our idea of home is or who waits for us there. It’s the choice that we make and the idea that we are not alone is what keeps us going.

Without love we are nothing. The people around us give us strength. The fact that somebody believes in us, sometimes more than we believe in ourselves, is what gives us the strength to move mountains.

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