Tiny Beautiful Things
Have you read Tiny Beautiful Things? You haven’t? Shame.
Not really, but a book that beautiful can’t not be read. Okay, so, it’s not really a book. Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of responses to life’s funny, heart-aching, challenging, and nearly unanswerable questions. This column, “Dear Sugar” first appeared on the online magazine, The Rumpus, where it quickly attracted a large following of avid readers. This book is best explained by Sasha Frere-Jones, The New Yorker critic. She says, “Sugar doesn't coddle her readers—she believes them, and hears the stories inside the story they think they want to tell. She manages astonishing levels of empathy without dissolving into sentiment, and sees problems before the reader can. Sugar doesn't promise to make anyone feel good, only that she understands a question well enough to answer it.”
It’s true, Strayed doesn’t have a psychology degree and doesn’t pretend to. She takes every story someone writes to her and gives them her heart. For a column she does for free, and on the side of making an income and living for herself, Strayed somehow finds the time to take in, think, and respond to those questions in a way that shows so much care, thoughtfulness, and compassion. This book rocked my world. When I read Strayed’s words I feel better, but in an achy, I want to reflect on my life and the beautiful things in it, kind of way. It makes me breathe deep and exhale smiling.
Read below and find some of the most beautiful quotes I have found in this book. Like them? I suggest buying the book or grabbing it from the library.
“I'll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don't choose. We'll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn't carry us. There's nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”
“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can't cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It's just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.”
“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.”
“It is not so incomprehensible as you pretend, sweet pea. Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard. It can be light as the hug we give a friend or heavy as the sacrifices we make for our children. It can be romantic, platonic, familial, fleeting, everlasting, conditional, unconditional, imbued with sorrow, stoked by sex, sullied by abuse, amplified by kindness, twisted by betrayal, deepened by time, darkened by difficulty, leavened by generosity, nourished by humor and “loaded with promises and commitments” that we may or may not want or keep.
The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of love.”
“Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will.”
“Forgiveness doesn't sit there like a pretty boy in a bar. Forgiveness is the old fat guy you have to haul up a hill.”
“You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt with. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding.”
“We are all entitled to our opinions and religious beliefs, but we are not entitled to make shit up and then use the shit we made up to oppress other people.”
“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 can't say when you'll get love or how you'll find it or even promise you that you will. I can only say you are worthy of it and that it's never too much to ask for it and that it's not crazy to fear you'll never have it again, even though your fears are probably wrong. Love is our essential nutrient. Without it, life has little meaning. It's the best thing we have to give and the most valuable thing we receive. It's worthy of all the hullabaloo.”
“You have to pay your own electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth. But that's all.”
“Accept that this experience taught you something you didn't want to know. Accept that sorrow and strife are part of even a joyful life. Accept that it's going to take a long time for you to get that monster out of your chest. Accept that someday what pains you now will surely pain you less.”
“What’s important is that you make the leap. Jump high and hard with intention and heart. Pay no mind to the vision that the commission made up. It’s up to you to make your life. Take what you have and stack it up like a tower of teetering blocks. Build your dream around that.”
“The most terrible and beautiful and interesting things happen in life. For some of you, those things have already happened. Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will.”
“Be brave enough to break your own heart.”