A difficult life can still be a beautiful life and the most impactful changes are the ones that happen within me.
-Alicia Harman, written and shared by Alicia in the Netherlands
A difficult life is not less
worth living than a gentle one.
Joy is simply easier to carry
than sorrow. And your heart
could lift a city from how long
you’ve spent holding what’s been
nearly impossible to hold.
This world needs those
who know how to do that.
Those who could find a tunnel
that has no light at the end of it,
and hold it up like a telescope
to know the darkness
also contains truths that could
bring the light to its knees.
Grief astronomer, adjust the lens,
look close, tell us what you see.
-Andrea Gibson, shared by Emma in Lincoln, NE (original source here)
Last fall, after we unleashed Ripples #1160: Fruitful Failures, I received several responses from readers sharing how that particular issue deeply resonated with them. One response was from Alicia who closed her kind note with “Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone,” and then finished the thought with the sentence I ended up using as today’s Pebble.
The phrase “a difficult life can still be a beautiful life,” resonated deeply with me, and it has been with me ever since. Last week during a conversation I became unexpectedly emotional when describing some tough stuff that’s been going on, and their response was kind and gentle: “I’m sorry life has been so difficult for you.” It didn’t come to me right away…but my eventual mental response was a comfort to my tired soul: “Has my life been difficult? Yup. And beautiful, too.”
Here’s the magical thing about today’s pairing of quotes: Emma submitted the above Boulder last fall as well, right around the same time Alicia’s message reached me. They’ve been paired up together ever since, waiting patiently until it felt like the right moment for a reminder that we don’t always have to choose between seeing things as good or bad, right or wrong, helpful or harmful. It can, at times, be more useful and more accurate to consider replacing OR with AND since things are sometimes good AND bad, right AND wrong, helpful AND harmful. Difficult AND beautiful, too.
P.S. Shortly after I put the finishing touches on this issue of Ripples, I stepped outside on a snowy, icy morning to record another of my brief video peptalks, this one answering a difficult, beautiful question: Can I be in a good mood even when dealing with hard stuff? Then I realized…hey wait this is related to this week’s Ripples, too! So I’m tacking it on here, hope that’s okay 🤓: