Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed


“I suppose this is what I mean when I say we cannot possibly know what will manifest in our lives. We live and have experiences and leave people we love and get left by them. People we thought would be with us forever aren’t and people we didn’t know would come into our lives do. Our work here is to keep faith with that, to put it in a box and wait. To trust that someday we will know what it means, so that when the ordinary miraculous is revealed to us we will be there, standing before the baby girl in the pretty dress, grateful for the smallest things.”

I took the weekend off reading. Instead, I spent Friday with some of my MA cohort, playing sociables but not drinking and then running away the second we got to the bar to listen to drunk Keisha and Matthew talk about the tech bubble. I spent Saturday at the farm, playing with Ali and Stu’s kid, drinking in the foggy sunset from their balcony and eating the best moose anyone could ask for. And I spent Sunday with my keys locked in the car, with David (what luck!) driving me to my mom’s house to pick up the spare. Then, tonight, I baked a hundred cookies. They’re waiting on the table to be put away, and I’m working up the courage. A hundred cookies is intimidating. 

All of that was necessary. Since I got back from Victoria, I’ve been busy enough with school and work that it’s easy to make excuses to be alone. Bookstravaganza is a great excuse. Solitude is a blessing. And solitude is a crutch. It’s not only easy to make excuses to be alone, it’s easy to be alone. I’m not, in this instance, trying to make excuses for not reading. I think I’ve read enough to take a breather. I’m just setting context, because spending the weekend surrounded by decent, genuine people whose company I enjoy made it absolutely necessary that the next book I read be Tiny Beautiful Things.

I was introduced to Dear Sugar three and a half years ago by a lovely human named Jessica. At the time I was in the death throes of a relationship that had gone on a year longer than it should’ve. Jess shared the essay “The Truth that Lives There,” and I was hooked. Of course, I ignored the message of that essay and the relationship went down in flames. We caused each other a lot of pain, him and I, almost all of it avoidable. If only I’d listened to Sugar.

Since then, life’s happened. And I’ve learned much about how to listen to that tiny voice that whispered ‘go,’ back then. I trust that voice better now. I trust myself better now. Since then I’ve read a million books, including Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild, which broke me into a million pieces after about a page and a half. She’s good, folks. Somehow, she manages to get right to the core, reaching with radical empathy into whatever broken thing you’re bringing to the table. Tiny Beautiful Things collects the best Dear Sugar columns into a convenient, purse-sized tome, and I’m grateful for it, because sometimes you just need a best friend in book form.

And sometimes you just need a best friend. I’m pretty lucky. The quote I shared above speaks about the ordinary miraculous, and this weekend reminded me of that. We get to be grateful for the smallest things – for apple vodka and marinated moose, for a friend’s arm on an icy hill, for the third person rule in a drinking game. The small things, not the big things, are what make our lives. So thanks, Dear Sugar, for reminding me of those.

Books read: 18


One response to “Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed

  1. Pingback: Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar | Marge Katherine·

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