Substitution is a common practice in our society. We have substitutes for sugar, teachers, and even happiness. Happy pills are just the beginning, though. We can just as easily substitute admiration from afar for a genuine relationship or sex for intimacy. We can substitute money for personal fulfillment or sycophants for friends. Having substitutes for what is truly of value is more common than having those things in the first place. Is it any wonder that many of us feel that our lives are pale shadows of what they should be? Is it any wonder that we become depressed at how meaningless our lives are? We subsist on substitutes.
I am a frequent substitute, as many of us are in some capacity. I fill the role of a parent or mentor to those who have never had a fulfilling relationship with their parents. In an emotional capacity, I fill the role of a boyfriend to women who are seeking that paradigm male relationship that has always eluded and disappointed them. I fill the role of a counselor to those who can’t afford a psychologist but still need the gift of wisdom and understanding.
So rarely am I not a substitute that I sometimes forget what it is to have a moment of genuine companionship. I try not to make other people into substitutes, and I sincerely wish that someday those people will no longer need substitutes. The genuine item is much more healthy and satisfying. How unfortunate that so many people would rather have that pale shadow.