The one thing that comes across to me from Cheryl Strayed's columns as "Sugar" was her kindness, love, and graciousness. And not to be judgmental. To persevere and to be dogged in the face of challenges life throws at you comes next. But first comes kindness. The first thing highlighted by George Saunders, who taught (teaches?) at Syracuse Univ, where Strayed got her MFA, is .... kindness and love. Or as the poet Phillip Larkin put it: "What will survive of us is love."
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly. Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth? Those who were kindest to you, I bet. It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.
And so, a prediction, and my heartfelt wish for you: as you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love. YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE.
You can read the whole speech here.
We should all move to Syracuse, blasted winters notwithstanding.... they put something in the water there that fosters kindness and also great writing skills!