No B.S Friday: More radical responsibility – this time about holding on to your sweetness.
If it’s one thing I’ve come to understand, it’s that life makes you bitter.
And it’s not that life is bad like that. I’m not having a grump. It’s ok. I’ve had my coffee. You can talk to me.
No, it’s not that life is wrong and bad and terrible.
It’s just that we are just born so darn cute and innocent.
We come into the world beautifully naive.
For most of us, we enter a universe where we are completely doted on and where we have every need attended to. We don’t even wipe our own bottoms.
And as we get a little bigger, we find ourselves with minimal responsibilities and oodles of leisure time to just stare at bugs or whatever.
And as we become teenagers, everything in our life confirms that we are the complete centre of the universe, and the love that we feel for that cute boy is the most epic love ever experienced by anyone in the universe.
But it’s an artificial reality. It’s a fantasy concocted for us by our loving parents and a consumer-culture obsessed with youth.
But then one by one, the walls of that fantasy begin to crumble, and we begin to face up to reality.
Being an adult involves responsibility. There’s no avoiding it. We have to get jobs and pay bills. We have to wipe our own bottoms.
And we begin to realise that we might not be young forever. Grey hairs come. We get flabby where there never used to be flab. We realise that we are being shuffled aside to make way for the next generation of young and effortlessly beautiful.
With that comes the realisation of death. It moves from an abstract idea to something we genuinely have to come to terms with, as gnarly as the idea is.
And as our gaze lifts from our entitled teen-age belly-buttons, we realise that there’s a whole world out there, and that there are entire nations of suffering and injustice.
And one day, we find that we are no longer living in a fantasy. We are living in the real world. And the real world is brutal and cruel and we are getting fat and going bald.
And with this, come bitterness.
And look, I just don’t blame anyone who’s been on this journey for becoming bitter. It’s the most natural thing in the world. We naturally become bitter and disappointed and prone to yelling at kids who walk on our lawn.
But we don’t have to let it happen.
We can choose to remain sweet.
And that doesn’t mean clinging to the fantasy, the way some people seem to cling to the dream of being young forever.
No, it involves seeing the world for all it’s cruelty and transfats, and remaining sweet in the midst of it all.
It’s a decision to anchor yourself in gratitude.
It’s a decision to grieve fully and savour every scrap of beauty that comes your way.
It’s a decision to love everyone around you for all their faults. It’s a decision to love yourself for all your faults.
If you can do this, you can hang on to your sweetness.
And if you can do this, then you win life. You’re a winner. A happy and sweet golden oldie.
To me, this sweetness is the definition of success.