When the worst things actually save you


“Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard
Some do it with a bitter look
Some with a flattering word
The coward does it with a kiss
The brave man with a sword.”
~ Oscar Wilde, The Ballad Of Reading Gaol


I will not bore you with dishonesty and claim that life’s hardest lessons are better than a bit of simple happiness. They are not. I would trade all the wisdom for a simple, beautiful story, lived honestly and with the foolish heart given to me at birth.

Alas, the trade is not an option.

It was Coco Chanel who said the best things in life are free, and the second best are very expensive. Wisdom is the second best. And indeed, it is very expensive. Which is precisely why, ironically and also not ironically, the worst things in life end up being responsible for our most profound and beneficial transformations. Yes, those things that manage to break us in a way that we open completely also save us. When there is nothing else to break, we are free.

Only caveat here is that wisdom requires we embrace it all the way…perform all of its rituals. Which include being grateful for our most ruthless teachers with as much candor as we summon for the gentlest ones.

The words I am about to write make me slightly nauseous. But they are true, and necessary. Even though I recoil shudder shiver a little as letters form in my mind and find their way to the keyboard…

I am grateful.

For the terrible lie truth that broke me when I least expected.

For all the delays, complications, humiliation, anger, resentment, and guilt. 

For all the mess. For the nasty, selfish people who crossed my path and succeeded to destroy what I created…or tried to.

You are the worst things I could have ever imagined. 

So thank you.

Because of you, I learned about the darkness, and met my shadows, and sat with fear, and with so many things I didn’t know could hurt in this human life. I learned to trust seeing with the heart and then to not trust, and then to maybe trust. I learned the cost of courage and what it means to love without knowing when, how or from where…beyond all the errors and silence and time.

Because of you, I learned the name of my many names, and found words for things I did not know existed. And also found things for words I had learned about but did not know. 

Because of you, this time lost was not wasted. I learned how the greatest things can make you small. I learned how to be small.

And although I understand now that life is always, especially in its best moments, an elaborate dance with fear…because of you, my darling worst things, I was afraid of fear for the last time.

Do not be alarmed or misled. I stand by Chanel’s quote and my original statement. Wisdom instead of simple happiness (and do not argue, please, about whether or not happiness is ever simple) is a bit like a kale smoothie (yes, I detest kale) against my preferred French baguette with freshly whipped butter.

But, there is a perk here too. You see, once free…truly free…suddenly you’re no longer willing or able to settle. You fall in love with yourself again and know your worth because you paid for your own awakening. Your standards are a lot higher. And when you change, your life too changes.

It’s really quite nice.

Like another one of Chanel’s quotes…you no longer spend time beating on walls hoping to transform them into doors. You simply walk to the doors and open them.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. I wrote similar words to myself some 16 years ago. Your resurfacing and restating them now, with such eloquence, is bittersweet for me. I ‘get’ all of this, as painful as it once was and as illuminating as life now is. Thank you for sharing the depth of your soul and emotions that linger, teach and *do* restore life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jb says:

      Thank you so much

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jb says:

      Thank you..


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