I first learned about Cheryl Strayed when I stumbled upon Wild at an opportune time in my life. I loved it. I loved the honesty, insight, strength, and resilience that Strayed showed in her life, and I loved the adventure of such a crazy journey. In Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar (2012), Cheryl Strayed takes all of the compassion and wisdom she has acquired throughout her own life and uses it to parse out other people's problems.
This book started out as an on-line advice column that Strayed took over under the pseudonym of Sugar. She takes on the universal and incredibly difficult problems of cheating, unrequited love, addiction, death, grief, relationships, and more. Strayed manages to tie in almost every one of her answers with a personal experience of her own, making this book one part incredibly insightful advice and two parts honest autobiography.
I am a big fan of Strayed's writing and this book was no exception. I kept highlighting line after line as I was reading. And I could really relate to some of the questions. The only thing that sometimes rubbed me the wrong way was the way Strayed called people "Sweetpea" and "Honey" as she responded to their questions. I realize this fit her persona as "Sugar" as well as her compassion and understanding of everyone who wrote to her. But to me the names felt fake and distracted me from the insightful understanding that Strayed had of other people's problems.
Below are some of my favorite quotes [out of context] that I marked as I was reading--mainly so I can remember more when I look back on this book later.
-"Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard. It can be light as the hug we give a friend or heavy as the sacrifices we make for our children...We are obligated to the people we care about and who we allow to care about us, whether we say we love them or not." (15-16)
-"Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can't cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It's just there and you have to survive it." (29)
-"She told me that at a certain point we get to decide who it is we allow to influence us." (159)
-"There are so many things to be tortured about, sweet pea. So many torturous things in this life. Don't let a man who doesn't love you be one of them." (186)
-"Shutting off that cyber feedbag will feel like hell those first few days, but I'm certain you'll soon realize how much better you can breathe when you're not constantly breathing in the fumes of your ex's life without you." (256)
-"We are all savages inside. We all want to be the chosen, the beloved, the esteemed." (258)
-"Forgiveness doesn't just sit there like a pretty boy in a bar. Forgiveness is the old fat guy you have to haul up the hill." (273)
-"What happened in this story? and What is this story about?" (313)
-"She'll offer you one of the balloons, but you won't take it because you believe you no longer have a right to such tiny beautiful things." (352)