Today Fandango provocatively asks…
Do you think that these two sayings are two sides of the same coin and that “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is just a nice way of saying that “Familiarity breeds contempt”? Or do you believe that these two expressions have polar opposite meanings?
In the abstract, I do believe the two sayings are making a similar point, which is that we often take the people in our daily lives for granted, but we miss them when they aren’t there.
But “contempt” is a harsh word, going beyond taking someone for granted. In my case, I enjoy familiar faces and things around me, and while I may not always express my appreciation directly, that does not mean I view them negatively or completely disregard them. The lockdown gives a good example of this for me. I missed seeing my coworkers and friends! And I hadn’t realized how much I would miss social invitations, if only to turn most of them down. That didn’t mean I viewed my friends with contempt; it merely meant that I treasured my alone time too and couldn’t accept every invite that popped up. The same will happen now that normal life has resumed ~ I still need my alone time.
The saying about absence is more interesting to me, since I have to split it in half, so to speak. If I think about my parents, it’s definitely true that I have focused almost exclusively on my good memories of them since they’ve been gone. In this way, my heart has grown fonder. I no longer have to stress/worry about them, or deal with any of the annoyances they used to cause. I have loads of wonderful memories about both of them, and it’s great to wander through those.
But what about exes? In their case, it’s the total opposite! My heart has not grown fonder toward any of them, but in fact has hardened against them all. Not only don’t I miss them, but I have decided that I dislike them (as romantic partners, not necessarily as friends)… and I wonder what I ever saw in any of them in the first place. I am so grateful I am free of all that dating garbage and can live my life in peace.
I try not to get too annoyed with Gatsby when he barfs on my yoga mat or yowls at 2am because I know I’ll miss him when he’s gone. He is 10 years old now and perfectly healthy (afaik), but still. It’s good to keep this in mind with pets and other loved ones, even if they’re occasionally irritating. If we outlive them, we’ll be sad when they have to go. Of course, I am assuming I will outlive Gatsby, but he’s safe inside while I have to drive on the 405…
I hope people will miss me too and remember the good things we shared.
Image from Pixabay.
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