But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor’d and sorrows end.
IF ANYONE HAS EVER TOLD YOU THAT YOU WERE “DEAR” TO THEM, YOU’VE BEEN PAID A HIGH COMPLIMENT. Yet regardless of the reaction of others, the responsibility is on our side to acquire characters that tend in the direction of endearment, rather than estrangement. Consider this point from four different angles.
Loved and cherished. To be “dear” to someone means they feel a fondness and an affection for us. Are we easily loved and cherished? Are our characters and conduct such that they encourage endearment?
Greatly valued. But “dear” can also mean “precious,” as in the remark, “In the fire, they lost many things that were dear to them.” Are we dear to our friends in this way? If our friendship were lost to them, would they lose anything of significant value in their lives?
Highly esteemed. The salutation “Dear Mr. Jones” is meant to convey respect. When others begin a letter to us in that way, does it take a stretch of their imagination to consider us with high regard or esteem? Has our relationship with them been worthy of their honor?
Earnest and ardent. If somebody said that a certain person “dearly loved golf,” that would mean his or her attraction to that activity was more than casual. What about the passions of your life? Do you love whatever you love in such a way that it’s dear to you?
It would be a hardhearted person who would say, “I don’t care whether anybody finds me endearing or not.” And yet, many of us may find that we go to the opposite extreme. Wanting to endear ourselves, we say and do things that are not really very genuine, and things that are not very natural to us, for no other reason than to gain the favor of those whose approval we value. But hypocrisy, flattery, and unctuousness are not endearing, no matter how skillfully they may be employed. What people want is for us to be comfortable in our own skins, to work hard at being the best “us” we can be, and to extend ourselves to them naturally and honestly. When it comes down to it, most folks find snapshots more endearing than glamour shots.
To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
One native charm, than all the gloss of art.