Lessons in Cynical Optimism (Vol. XLIII)

“You see, but you do not observe.”

Sherlock Holmes to Dr. Watson, A Scandal In Bohemia (via GoodReads)

It is strange, but the older I get, the less interested I am in the cardboard heroes and the more interested I am in the cowards who try hard to be brave, or the cruel people who strive to be kind, or the liars who try to speak more honestly, or the lazy people who try to exert themselves, or the ignorant people who try to educate themselves, or…

You get the idea.

In the same vein, the older I get, the more I feel silent rage when people flippantly say things like, “oh, being nice is easy for you, you were born that way.” Well, no, not at all; don’t people understand how very hard it is to grow and do better in an area? Do you know how much anger and sadness “nice people” like me contain? I loathe the saying that “it doesn’t cost anything to be kind.”


It costs a very great deal to be kind during the suffering of this broken world, especially when under great personal extremis, especially when people are being petty dickwads and sadists.

It’s not a SIN thing, of course, because I don’t believe in sin. But I think you know that by now. It’s just easier to use culturally common words to describe the low-energy or high-energy moments and choices.

I just think we would enjoy our journey more and feel better about the species if we took the time to see how very much work goes into the little virtues, or even just the absence of egregious excesses, in the people we encounter. And please, for god’s sake, can we be a little more kind and patient, not just with each other, but with OURSELVES?

How much better would you feel, even for just one day, if you gave yourself a little credit and grace for how hard you are trying; if, instead of beating yourself up for falling short on a goal, you recognized JUST HOW HARD YOU WORKED TO ACCOMPLISH AS MUCH AS YOU DID?

In the words of an accidental guru whose path I crossed miles and years ago, “Be kind to yourself.” And, sure enough, you’ll be astounded to see how much kinder you become towards the people around you, without even thinking about it. And maybe, just maybe, if more people start doing this, we can start to turn things on this poor, little, raggedy-ass space rock.

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