Beauty is in the ordinary

We should let go of the illusion of having a perfect life and an ideal love, says Flemish psychiatrist and professor Dirk De Wachter in Issue 14. Instead we should notice the beauty in everyday, ordinary things and be content with things as they are. Below you can read a preview of this article. 

You wrote a book about love. Could you tell us a little bit about it?
“Alongside my job as a psychiatrist and professor at the University of Leuven, in Belgium, I work as a relationship therapist, and I see a lot of sadness in love. With my book, I want to show the “ordinariness” of love. Very often people—even therapists—think too highly of love, and a relationship between two people has to meet such lofty requirements that disappointment is almost inevitable. I want to show how normal love should really be. The more we keep searching and trying to find it, the less love will come to us naturally. The art is to let go and not pretend so much that we can “make love happen.” We have overworked the illusion that everything we set our mind to can be achieved. It’s understandable in a way, because Western man has achieved so many amazing things. Highly advanced machines and technology allow us to live very comfortable lives, yet despite this, unfortunately, we appear to be as clueless about friendship, love and ways of living together as we were a thousand years ago.”


And there we are, thinking we can force love to just happen.
“We do indeed suffer from the illusion that we can make that perfect love just happen. But we can’t. Love is difficult—it always has been and always will be. Something so complicated can never be fully resolved or made ideal; it’s just part of human nature. It used to be difficult because we were bound by religious laws and small-minded conventions and prohibitions. That was terrible, so we should be happy that time is over. But let’s not pretend that everything has been fixed. The freedom we now have also causes problems. They are different kinds of problems, but just as hard to deal with. I see the people in my consultation room with their terrible sadness and broken hearts, and when I look at what the biggest problem for my patients is, I have to say it is love.”

  • You can read the rest of the interview with Dirk de Wachter in Issue 14.

Interview Sjoukje van de Kolk Hand-lettering Valerie McKeehan