“There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding… Understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again. And again. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of these things will have to do with forgiveness. “
Cheryl Strayed’s advice to her twenty-two year-old self from a viewpoint two decades further on, from her searingly honest, compassionate book Tiny Beautiful Things.
As well as writing novels, Cheryl Strayed was the for-a-while-anonymous advice columnist for The Rumpus. This book brings letters written to her about life, love, loss, work, identity – and her beautiful replies – together in one place. Many of those who write to her are in the midst of life’s great transitions and paradoxes and she responds with humour, kindness, depth and an unwavering belief in the dignity, strength and courage of her correspondents. All of this allows her to say what’s true, and what’s sometimes difficult to hear, in a way that invites the possibility of living with a whole heart.
“You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.”
Tiny Beautiful Things is a wonderful read from start to finish, and a necessary reminder that kindness is not the same as niceness, love need not be the opposite of truthfulness, and that it’s possible to talk about the deep concerns of human life in a way that’s at once humane and liberating. An amazing resource for any of us who want to muster the courage to face life’s difficulties, or to support others in doing the same.