The more we take the welfare of others to heart and work for their benefit, the more benefit we derive for ourselves. This is a fact we can see. And the more selfish we remain and self-centered, the more selfish our way of life is, the lonelier we feel and the more miserable. This is also a fact we can see.
To embrace the child may threaten the adult who values information above wonder, entertainment above play, and intelligence above ignorance. If we were really to care for the child, we would have to face our own lower natures — our indomitable emotions, our insane desires, and the vast range of our incapacity.
We were classically in love, holding the classic beliefs: Everything is possible between us, we can authentically care for each other through not just the coming days but . . . the numerous busy decades to come. . . . It's in no way denigrating to admit what we all know: This time comes and then it goes.
During my second year of nursing school, our professor gave us a quiz. I breezed through the questions until I read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?" Surely this was a joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Before the class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our grade. "Absolutely," the professor said. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello." I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.