The Hard Stuff

Let’s do things from bottom up this time.  I read this quote and despite the fact that I should be doing a dozen other things, I had to post it:

“Don’t be yourself. Be someone a little nicer.” -Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)

You know how sometimes when you’re trying to figure out stuff, something just falls into your life that tells you to get your act together because nothing in life comes easy? This quote was the one for me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want and how it seems unfair that I might not get it simply because of circumstances. And I’ve been wondering why God would give me sneak-previews (so to speak), if He knows that I know that I’m never going to get to experience the main feature anyway. What’s the point?

And on the other hand, I’ve also been trying to accept the fact that there are some things I’m going to have to ‘put-up’ with, which kind of deflates the whole ‘I’m-so-excited-about-being-alive’ feeling I want to hold on to.

I guess, what I was hoping I could do was to have my cake and eat it all. And that’s one of things about the process of becoming an adult: you have to realise that eating the whole cake might be fun, but it gives you a mighty tummy-ache afterwards.

Don’t be yourself. 
That’s what I wanted to be, partly because it’s so easy to be yourself, to set up your own rules. To live in a small world of your own definition, regardless of how it affects those around you.

Be someone a little nicer.  That’s the hard, and let’s admit it, boring bit. It means sometimes having to adapt to the way other people live and to accept a set of rules for the greater good of others, although you might have no need or inclination to follow them.

Being nicer means giving up the heroine role of being exciting, mysterious, a little spoilt, a little wayward, a bit unnerving and possibly unpredictable. But at the end of the day, when we want a shoulder to cry on, or someone to turn to whom we can depend on, someone who’ll understand without questioning, we all look for the ‘nice’ people in our lives.

The difference between being yourself and being nicer is the difference between interesting and comfortable.  It’s the difference between being the actor on the stage, and the cue-prompter in the darkened wings.  It’s the difference between the vibrant paint and the plain canvas that sacrifices everything to hold those strokes just so.

It’s the difference between the wallpaper and the dry wall it’s plastered over. It’s the difference between the house and its foundation, between the flower and its roots, between the software and the binary code beneath it, between the interface and its functionality.

And at its core, it’s the difference between being human and being humane.

Being yourself is human. Being nicer is a step towards the Divine.

Bint Ali


2 thoughts on “The Hard Stuff

  1. Being the best that we can be, and not simply living to satisfy our desires. Taming our desires. This was great. It really made me introspect… Thank you Peppermint Prose.

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