NOBODY DOES IT BETTER
Text and illustration: Girtrude Belle
You grow up and you realize that everything about you matters. That little watercolor you did in that odd drawing class six years ago…
…the one you didn’t think turned out that great, then. That year you got into exercising and realized your body can do things at 37 it never could at 19. That time you made yourself literally sick with anxiety over what essentially amounted to the opinions of other people – and the understanding it brought you about how much your own well-being matters and how everyone’s opinions had far more to do with their own anxieties than with you. How the cat you adopted as a favor to a friend who’s no longer a friend changed your life and how you’ll never forget him. How much courage it actually takes to be you and to stay you, even when people tell you you’re a coward and lazy and foolish, or any of a number of random projections from their own state unto you.
“And it becomes abundantly clear, for the hundredth time at least, that the smallest ways in which you honor your principles, or fail to, has profound reverberations on your life as a whole…”
You grow up and you realize that you have to be careful what you listen to. That the very same people who had so much to criticize begin to admire you once you stop listening to them completely and start listening to yourself instead. That they now wouldn’t mind it if you let them hang around you and are actually very curious about your life. They suddenly have questions instead of answers, their demeanor changes from haughty and judgemental to demure and interested. And suddenly you realize how strangely calm you feel instead of vengeful and resentful, as you had assumed you would when this day would come (and we all know that the day always comes, maybe not in the exact way we imagined, but come it does).
Suddenly you see that everything is anticlimactic and that, rather than disappointment, there is bliss in it. This is what the Buddhists call equanimity. And suddenly you hear from a couple of old friends unexpectedly and they only say “hey I was just thinking about you” but it changes your whole day. And it becomes abundantly clear, for the hundredth time at least, that the smallest things matter, the smallest ways in which you honor your principles, or fail to, has profound reverberations on your life as a whole, like the waves emanating from a pebble that was dropped in water. You tend to measure yourself by the big things, but it’s the smallest things about you that matter most. Because the smallest things about you are you. And to be you isn’t easy – nobody else could do it if they tried.