Love thyself last
Yesterday I read a Shakespeare quote taken from Henry VIII, “Love thyself last: cherish those hearts that hate thee.”
It drew my attention because it’s so different from the love yourself first mantra of this selfie era.
I never quite got the knack of loving myself first. Is it like what cabin attendants say in case of emergency, you should put on your mask first before you help others?
Can you really only love others if you love yourself first as so many self-help books proclaim?
I’ve always experienced love as a flow from the inside out and the very fact that it’s channelled towards others makes love such an exhilarating adventure. Even after more than forty-three years my heart skips a beat when I look through the window and see my husband Felipe getting off his motor.
My heart never skips a beat when I see myself in the mirror - unless I discover a new wrinkle on my forehead.
I wanted to find out what Shakespeare exactly meant so I googled the quote, but Google was not interested in loving ourselves last. There were pages and pages on why we should love ourselves and inspirational Bible verses about how we should go about that endeavour.
I found links to love thyself in Tagalog, a love thyself tattoo and a Quora forum about the scientifically proven importance of self-love.
I was surprised at my eagerness to look for an antipole to the self-love chant. It’s not that I don’t like myself, the feeling is more one of neutral acceptance, the same way I’ve gotten used to the heat of Spanish summers or the taste of the porridge I eat every morning.
Over the years a familiarity has developed, which is mildly pleasant, but I always thought I fell short because that pleasant feeling never developed into a full-blown passion.
Only now, while writing about it do I understand that I want Shakespeare to release me from the tedious obligation of having to love myself first. Thanks to him, a passion for myself is no longer compulsory and that shows how important literature is. Especially for a writer.