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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Compliment Me, Don't Complete Me

"You complete me" from the five-star movie Jerry Maguire is the most overrated love quote I know. As an avid romantic comedy fan, I live for the moment, about an hour and a half after the cinema lights dim, when the lead, after a formulaic series of mistakes and misunderstandings, realizes the "true meaning of love" and launches into a heartfelt confession, thus emptying the contents of his profound wisdom onto the carpet in a living room filled with jaded divorcees. My eyes clouded with tears as a regretful Jerry Maguire finally approached his wife Dorothy Boyd who was on the brink of leaving him.

While the scene is stirring, poignant and funny, there is a fundamentally wrong assumption that we are "incomplete beings" with half-lives wandering the earth aimlessly... until we find a partner. What a pile of rubbish. Think about this-- isn't it only when one can function well wholly as an individual, yet choose to love another to the fullest extent of one's capacity that we witness love at its most glorifying? There is nothing noteworthy about being with someone because you need him or her to actually "validate" your existence, to drink champagne on special occasions or to support your crippled lonely life. I prefer a line in the 1997 Oscar-winning film "As Good As It Gets" where Jack Nicholson was motivated to take better care of his health after knowing Helen Hunt and her selflessness.

He says it with the most perfect dead pan face, "You make me want to be a better man." I love this line for its simplicity-- no fanfare, no histrionics, no long drawn out speech. I love it for its indication that in all your imperfect ways, you have been an inspiration to someone else in this wacky, unpredictable universe. I love it that, even should the relationship end, you have changed each other for the better instead of the two of you crumpling into a heap of jigsaw puzzle pieces... onto a carpet... in a living room filled with desperate housewives. "You make me want to be a better person," will probably go down in my own spiritual thought process, as the second-best compliment anyone can ever pay to another person. The best compliment would be "You made me become a better person." Because then you would have not merely inspired a desire in someone... but a positive action as well.

Copyright © 2005 Bridget Petrella Media Relations

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