May 12, 2K15
After I read, Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, I began to think of how glorious it is to reach our “becoming.” She speaks an immense amount on the purpose and need for forgiveness, of others and ourselves, most importantly, ourselves. Strayed heightens the things we believe to be the worthless parts of our lives and shines a light on them, recognizing these particular pieces as more important than the rest. In her words,
“You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love.”
“The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.”
“The story of human intimacy is one of constantly allowing ourselves to see those we love most deeply in a new, more fractured light. Look hard. Risk that.”
“You have to say I am forgiven again and again until it becomes the story you believe about yourself.”
“So release yourself from that. Don’t be strategic or coy. Strategic and coy are for jackasses. Be brave. Be authentic. Practice saying the word ‘love’ to the people you love so when it matters the most to say it, you will.”
“I suppose this is what I meant when I wrote what I did, sweet pea, about how it is we cannot possibly know what will manifest in our lives. We live and have experiences and leave people we love and get left by them. People we thought would be with us forever aren’t and people we didn’t know would come into our lives do. Our work here is to keep faith with that, to put it in a box and wait. To trust that someday we will know what it means, so that when the ordinary miraculous is revealed to us we will be there, standing before the baby girl in the pretty dress, grateful for the smallest things.”
I want to believe words and quotes and books have the capability to heal. For years I’ve escaped to prose in order to feel a completeness, a solitude, a pat on the back and a small nudge forward. Slowly, I’m being slapped with a large, “Words mean nothing unless you’re physically moved to do something about your life after reading them.” Life can be pretty and ugly when written on the page of a book, words will move you to joy and tears, but in all scenarios you are seated, still. Books are an adrenaline because you get all the rewards without the risk of chaos, you’re still in control. At the end of the page, at the end of the book, the words will have always been mere letters, forming worlds you walk around in, only to promptly leave.
I will find my peace in the written word for as long as I have a heart that needs transcending. I like that idea. I enjoy becoming a better version of myself, climbing higher but never truly reaching my entire becoming. The cynics believe it’s useless, to advance without ever reaching the mountaintop. I’m beyond grateful for this. What a gift it is, to be cursed and blessed with the journey of discovery every single day for the rest of your life. To always have your eyes set on what’s next, growing from where you’ve been, shedding who you once were, taking with you the more polished components, relishing the memories and still continuing on, knowing full well the greatness of who we were, and the inevitability of the greatness we are embarking on.
All of us, all of humanity, deserves to make mistakes, only to become bigger and better thereafter. Strayed writes the only way to take useful steps towards our own becoming is to be forgiving, fearless and vulnerable, allowing us to be loving and loved because of these things. Strayed writes about being a warrior, a fighter.
Sitting, reading her words won’t create a better life for you or me. But it will give you a small ounce of courage, a tiny nudge forward, and a metaphorical pat on the back.
More times than not, that’s all we need.