Sometimes, a book comes into your life that hits all the right places and spaces in your heart. Sometimes it’s a work of fiction, a poem, a memoir, a dizzying array of hypothesis and interjection. Sometimes it’s a simple page turner, other times it takes you months of blissful but challenging reading to get through.
For me, for the moment, that book is tiny beautiful things: Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed. Dear Sugar is the advice column at The Rumpus (for those unfamiliar), where Sugar gives light and love and advice to the woeful, the loved, the lost, the confused, the exhilarated, and the forlorn. Her answers are always poignant, filled with beautiful language and rooted deep within personal example and compassion.
This book is for anyone that has loved and left that love behind. For those who have lost or live in fear of losing. For those about to marry the love of the lives, or those who have never loved or been loved at all. For the middle aged, the young, the young at heart. For the orphaned or the newly family-ed. For those with everything to live for or nothing. For the depressed, despondent, the energetic and joyful. Simply, it is for everyone who has ever existed, ever.
I so enthusiastically recommend this book not because it answered questions of mine, but because it answered a few and left me with even more questions. Questions about how I will go forward with certain things in my life. Questions about what I will change, if I will change them. Questions about what will I do and how I should feel. For a book to do all that, is quite possibly one of the greatest gifts in the world. I found myself sobbing over the letter from a father who’d lost his son. I called my mother after reading about the death of Sugar’s mom, just to hear her voice. I found my own insecurities revealed in a woman who held on to the belief that there exists a “perfect relationship.”
There is so much magic in this one book, so much insight and clear-headedness, that I will buy it just to read it over and over again in both my darkest and lightest moments. I am aware of the potential weight I am giving this one book (and therefore a certain amount of unwarranted pressure on its author for having “the answers”), but it isn’t that. Sugar has answers, yes, but she willingly admits they are not necessarily the “right” ones, and certainly not the expert ones. Sugar is highly aware and mindful of her human-ness, her flaws, and her experience, which is what makes her so captivating. There is rarely a “right” answer, only the one that can guide you to a place of light. And that is ultimately your choice.
Let me know if you’re read or are going to read tiny beautiful things. How did it help you most? Who are you going to pass it on to, next?