Cheryl Strayed is an absolute gem.
I picked up Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar on a whim at the library after reading her other books this summer. I figured this would be a throwaway little book, nothing earth-shattering.
I was wrong.
Her faith in people—and I don’t mean that in a religious way at all—is astounding and refreshing. I found myself giggling and weeping the whole way through this book, which is a collection of her advice columns (if you can call these eloquent letters “advice columns) over at The Rumpus. Her advice is frequently informed by stories from her own life.
Take what she writes to a woman who lost her baby at 6 1/2 months pregnant:
Don’t listen to those people who suggest you should be ‘over’ your daughter’s death by now. The people who squawk the loudest about such things have almost never had to get over anything. Or at least not anything that was genuinely, mind-fuckingly, soul-crushingly life altering. Some of those people believe they’re being helpful by minimizing your pain. Others are scared of the intensity of your loss and so they use their words to push your grief away. Many of those people love you and are worthy of your love, but they are not the people who will be helpful to you when it comes to healing the pain of your daughter’s death.
They live on Planet Earth. You live on Planet My Baby Died.
Or what she writes to a man who describes himself as “incredibly ugly” due to a rare blood disorder when he asks if he should give up on love:
You will never have my permission to close yourself off to love and give up. Never. You must do everything you can to get what you want and need, to find ‘that type of love.’ It’s there for you. I know it’s arrogant of me to say so, because what the hell do I know about looking like a monster or a beast? Not a thing. But I do know that we are here, all of us—beasts and monsters and beauties and wallflowers alike—to do the best we can. And every last one of us can do better than give up….You aren’t conventionally attractive or even, as you say, ‘normal-looking,’ and as you know already, a lot of people will immediately X you out as a romantic partner for this reason. That’s okay. You don’t need those people. By stepping aside, they’ve done you a favor. Because what you’ve got after the fools have departed are the old souls and the true hearts. Those are the uber-cool sparkle rocket mind-blowers we’re after. Those are the people worthy of your love.
A gem, I tell you. A gem.