{www} nothing good gets away.

i came across the incredible web site letters of note over the weekend and discovered the amazing letter below written by one of my favorite authors, john steinbeck —  what follows is a truly precious exchange of communication between a father and his son on the subject of love.


In November of 1958, John Steinbeck — the renowned author of, most notably, The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, and Of Mice and Men — received a letter from his eldest son, Thom, who was attending boarding school. In it, the teenager spoke of Susan, a young girl with whom he believed he had fallen in love.

Steinbeck replied the same day. His beautiful letter of advice can be enjoyed below.

New York
November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First—if you are in love—that’s a good thing—that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second—There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply—of course it isn’t puppy love.

But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it—and that I can tell you.

Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.

The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.

If you love someone—there is no possible harm in saying so—only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.

It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another—but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.

Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.

We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.


{via letters of note}

4 responses to “{www} nothing good gets away.

  1. I absolutely love this Madison and cant wait to check out the site with other letters of note. One thing I like at the end is the part that speaks of “love not returned doesn’t make it less valuable or good.” I once heard Beth Moore say in a Bible study that the love we extend to others goes up to God as a fragrant offering. If its not received, He then just uses it to shower us with more love from above. This was a beautiful way to start the day. Thanks for always sharing your heart of love….Aunt Robin

  2. Wow. This is so beautiful. Like you Aunt Robin, I can’t wait to check out the other letters! How beautiful to catch a little glimpse into the private lives of these two and to see a father as “noteable” as Steinbeck respond to his son in such a way that reminds me of my own parents’ (and your parent’s) loving advice. What a blessing. Thanks for sharing, sweet friend!

  3. this is so sweet:) thanks for sharing! love your blog:)

  4. What lovely words from a Father to his son. Would love to know if Thom ever brought Susan home to meet the parents. Would love to know if she was “the one”. If so, would love to know how many years of “the second kind of love” they shared. Somethings tells me yes, yes, and many!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s