“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”
~ Kurt Vonnegut
I think Vonnegut is badass. He’s always had this tough guy ‘tude, and writes fearlessly. His stories stay with me, most for decades. And then there’s this quote, which feels like the boiled-down-to-purity essence of the struggles I’ve had everywhere lately. I’ve been growing bitter, something far from my true nature. I’ve let the bastards get me down, again, only this time it’s been more than just a peaceful dark withdrawal into self defeat. I’ve hated other people this time, sometimes just for taking up space, or more often for spewing hate themselves.
But I want this beauty, and the softness that is the hardest damn thing sometimes. It used to define me, it’s been used against me, but it’s who I need to be, somehow, again. I think this may be the real challenge of my lifetime, my measure of success. If Anne Frank could still believe in the basic goodness of human beings after being hunted and hated by so many, who the hell am I to write people off?
Still, my inner cynic is swearing about asshats right now, and she has a point too. Some people suck. Some people delight in creating chaos all around them. Some are just lost in ugliness.
But I don’t want to be one of those. I want to be part of that thing that Anne Frank saw in us, that Vonnegut sees in the beauty of the world. I want to follow my own advice, given often, to step outside and feel the air on my skin and feel the wonder of the world and of life and of creation, however it got created, because please, that’s not the point for me. The point is, just breathe, and be soft.