You Are What You Love, Not What Loves You

Steve Wishman
March 28, 2023

One of the most profound lines from Adaptation, starring Nicholas Cage as Charlie Kaufman. Charlie's twin brother Donald (also played by Nicholas Cage) tells a story about loving a girl when he was young and knowing that the girl was making fun of him behind his back.

When asked why it didn't bother him he said, "Because I loved her. It was mine. I owned that love and not even she had the right to take that away. I can love whoever I want ... If she thought I was pathetic, that was her business. Not mine ... You are what you love, not what loves you.

I've been reflecting on this quote today, in the context of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia, and all of the grieving that comes included in that package. Some of the people I've encountered in support groups are caring for a spouse who no longer recognizes them, or even found new romance with other people in their care facilities. It is probably the ultimate test of our ability to practice compassion while keeping our attachments and reactions in check.

No items found.
Steve Wishman

Steve Wishman is the founder of Zen and the Art of Caregiving, and author/illustrator of How Mom Died, a webcomic/memoir chronicling his experiences as a caregiver for his mother at the end of her life.