Porcupines

This is a great short video on happiness which I felt it was so true. In here Elizabeth Gilbert talks about intimacy and relationships.

Just in case if you can’t watch the video this is what she says:

Schopenhauer a pessimistic philosopher had a theory of human relationships that was about porcupines and he used that as the metaphor. He said that in love and in relationships, whether that be with our families, our spouses, our friends, we are all of us on this earth because we are so uncomfortable with our emotions we are like porcupines who are out on a cold winter’s night. They get cold, and they need to huddle together for warmth. They crave connection and they crave warmth. So they come together and then they prick each other because they have these big horrible spines and it’s painful and so in order to avoid the pain they retreat and then they get cold so they come together and then they get spined so they retreat and then they get cold and then come together. And this dance of intimacy is what defines our relationships with everybody that we encounter. There’s this need to be close that’s followed by this need to be separated in order to protect ourselves from the inevitable hurt that happens when you get too close.

Schopenhauer didn’t have much of a remedy for that, he didn’t think that that was ever really going to end, he saw that as our need to our human nature. What he suggested was that those who had learnt how to generate their own warmth were able to keep the safest distance from the other porcupines. Which didn’t necessarily mean living a life of isolation, it just meant not impaling yourself on other people so that you can have that critical little space in which to be a little bit self-contained to create your own warmth, your own sense of your own humanity, so that you could be close without being stabbed. The path to that is the closest secret to happiness as anything I’ve ever heard.

I feel like a porcupine…

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