The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of love”

In the liner notes to Tiny Beautiful Things, the song by May Erlewine, is a pointer to tiny beautiful things, the book by Cheryl Strayed.

Rule number one for a successful life: always follow the lateral connections.

A copy, it turned out, was on the shelf at the Cornwall Public Library. So I immediately hopped in the car and drove to Cornwall to pick it up.

The book is a compendium of pieces Strayed wrote, using the pseudonym Sugar, as an advice columnist.

Of the highest, most passionately engaged order, as it turns out.

From the first chapter, a reply to “Johnny,” who is prevaricating about saying “I love you” to the woman he’s been dating for four months:

I suppose you think this has nothing to do with your question, Johnny, but it has everything to do with my answer. It has everything to do with every answer I have ever given to anyone. It’s Sugar’s genesis story. And it’s the thing my mind kept swirling back to over these five weeks since you wrote to me and said you didn’t know the definition of “love.”

It is not so incomprehensible as you pretend, sweet pea. Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard. It can be light as the hug we give a friend or heavy as the sacrifices we make for our children. It can be romantic, platonic, familial, fleeting, everlasting, conditional, unconditional, imbued with sorrow, stoked by sullied by abuse, amplified by kindness, twisted by betrayal, deepened by time, darkened by difficulty, leavened by generosity, nourished by humor, and “loaded with promises and commitments” that we may or may not want or keep. The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of love. And, Johnny, on this front, I think you have some work to

But before we get to that, I want to say this, darling: I sort of love you.

The book only gets better from there.


vbj's picture
vbj on April 3, 2021 - 21:17 Permalink

I love Tiny Beautiful Things. The first time I read it I realized I could only read one letter per week or took time to think deeply about it.