Quotes from Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

While I was compiling the list of quotes to include for my Best Books of 2015 list, I realized that the list for Tiny Beautiful Things was long enough to make up its own post entirely. So, excluding the quotes I chose to include in the book list, here are some of my favorites (among so many!) from the treasure-trove that is Tiny Beautiful Things:

 

The question about who you will love and when you will love him is out of your hands. It’s a mystery that you can’t solve.

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The story of human intimacy is one of constantly allowing ourselves to see those we love most deeply in a new, more fractured light.

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[…] because all right is almost always where we eventually land, even if we fuck up entirely along the way.

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You don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success. You don’t have to explain what you plan to do with your life. You don’t have to justify your education by demonstrating its financial rewards. You don’t have to maintain an impeccable credit score. Anyone who expects you to do any of those things has no sense of history or economics or science or the arts. You have to pay your own electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth. But that’s all.

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When I say you don’t have to explain what you’re going to do with your life, I’m not suggesting you lounge around whining about how difficult it is. I’m suggesting you apply yourself in directions for which we have no accurate measurement. I’m talking about work. And love.

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But I do know that we are here, all of us—beasts and monsters and beauties and wallflowers alike—to do the best we can. And every last one of us can do better than give up.

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The whole deal about loving truly and for real and with all you’ve got has everything to do with letting those we love see what made us.

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Yes, you are obliged to tell the men you’re sleeping with regularly that you’re not sleeping with them exclusively. There are no exceptions to this rule. Ever. For anyone. Under any circumstances. People have the right to know if the people they are fucking are also fucking other people. This is the only way the people fucking people who are fucking other people can make emotionally healthy decisions about their lives. It’s clean. It’s right. It’s honest. And it’s a basic tenet of Sugar’s hard-earned, didn’t-do-it-the-right-way-the-first-time-around Ethical Code to Loving Others as Well as Loving Oneself.

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The beauty of your situation, Man Juggler, is that you don’t have to juggle. Just because you can fuck a different man every night of the week doesn’t mean you should. One of the basic principles of every single art form has to do not with what’s there—the music, the words, the movement, the dialogue, the paint—but with what isn’t. In the visual arts it’s called the “negative space”—the blank parts around and between objects, which is, of course, every bit as crucial as the objects themselves. The negative space allows us to see the nonnegative space in all its glory and gloom, its color and mystery and light. What isn’t there gives what’s there meaning. Imagine that.

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The complicated thing about friends is that sometimes they are totally wrong about us and sometimes they are totally right and it’s almost always only in retrospect that we know which is which.

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I knew over the course of our friendship she too might have opinions or concerns about me that she’d opt to discuss with someone else in words that would be best for me not to hear. And I knew that was okay, that it was a perfectly natural part of sustaining a true friendship over many years, that it wasn’t a betrayal, but a blessing.

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[…] romantic love is not a competitive sport. Some of those women your boyfriend used to fuck have nicer asses than you. Some are smarter or funnier or fatter or more generous or more messed-up than you. That’s okay. That has no bearing on you whatsoever. You’re not up against those women. You’re running your own race. We don’t dig or not dig people based on a comparison chart of body measurements and intellectual achievements and personality quirks. We dig them because we do.

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You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding.

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[…] that there will likely be no clarity, at least at the outset; there will only be the choice you make and the sure knowledge that either one will contain some loss.

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You actually do stop being an awful jealous person by stopping being an awful jealous person.

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Love isn’t the only thing that’s sometimes complicated and sometimes simple. Truth is sometimes that way too.

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Don’t surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn’t true anymore.

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It isn’t enough to have had an interesting or hilarious or tragic life. Art isn’t anecdote. It’s the consciousness we bring to bear on our lives. For what happened in the story to transcend the limits of the personal, it must be driven by the engine of what the story means.

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Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.

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Acceptance is a small, quiet room.

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The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.

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Say thank you.

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