I’ve been thinking about superheros again. About how they are different from everyone else — how the behaviors they possess are different from normal (Barney Fifeish) people.
One of the qualities I started thinking about was selflessness. I was having this conversation with a friend about being selfless and how sometimes one person can perceive a behavior as selfless but the one perceived as being selfless can really think they’re just over-burdened (ok, so that wasn’t really part of the conversation but it sounded good now).
But, being selfless is tricky. I would think it might be close to impossible. Even for a superhero. I needed to know more about selflessness, here’s what I found out:
Selflessness: Having, exhibiting, or motivated by no concern for oneself;
acting with less concern for yourself than for the success of others.
Just looking at these definitions really scares me for those that have the burden to be selfless — or maybe just the burden of others thinking they’re selfless. When I thought about this more clearly, I realized that being selfless can be hard, it can be draining, it can cause you to lose yourself — no one should lose themself in the act of helping another. And really, why would you want them to?
When I think about the qualities that someone possesses that attracts me to them as a friend, selflessness has never come up. But, sometimes, it may need to be there, or at least some form of it, in order to keep the relationship going — maybe that would be being sometimes available. So, the difference between selflessness and sometimes available may be the key to having a healthy friendship as opposed to losing yourself. Losing yourself, giving so much that it wears you down, giving more than you’re capable — should never be grounds for a relationship.
So, superheros. Looking at them, they aren’t necessarily selfless. Most superheros from fictional accounts were in love or had businesses; they had something that they cared about for themselves more than the “greater good”. Not selfless. But still superheros.
Selfless is tricky. I’m sure we shouldn’t strive for selflessness. Giving of yourself and being available, but with limits — that should be the goal. Because if you lose yourself by giving to others, would they even want to be around you any more? But giving of yourself because it keeps you whole is poetry.
Friendship is a delicate balance and selfless is tricky.