This is a philosophical statement. It is intended to spark thinking and examining.
“Breakdowns can lead to breakthroughs, if you let them. You look back on the worst thing that ever happened in your life, your worst day, you look back now, and your whole life actually gained something from that. You grew somehow. In fact, you might now almost half-way be glad that whatever it was happened because you look at what you learned when you lost that job your you didn’t get into that school or you came home to early … you almost with enough time can look back and almost be thankful for the breakdown because if you use them right they can become breakthroughs, and what I am passionate about is that we come through this better, and not bitter. That’s your challenge.”
— Van Jones (emphasis mine)
Wow. That last bit especially really hits me. “Better, not bitter. That’s your challenge.” That’s the challenge… because it is so easy, isn’t it? To get all wrapped up in something and carry it with us like festering garbage? Walking around with this sense of upset and resentment in ways that really, when we step back and look at it, isn’t doing us any good? And even quite diminishing our lives? Even when we do the better part, when we do learn something, adjust something, grow from it… it’s all too easy to “might as well do the bitter part too!” Only – and this is so easy to see in our friends and colleagues and strangers – bitterness doesn’t really do us any good. It’s like the definition of resentment: drinking poison in hopes the other person dies. It lines the everyday experience of life with poopiness.
Better, not bitter. That’s our challenge. To grow, to grow more, to grow yet again, always with freedom and peace of mind, to take our past(s) and tell our story(ies) in ways that empower and enable us all in that which we really want. To not get hobbled by our past, or more so to not, mostly accidentally, plant a bitter pill and water it and carry it around and show it off and wrap it around ourselves such that it begins to restrict and strangle us and we are so used to it that it all feels normal.
It is an active thing. To not be bitter. Or to give the bitterness an expiration date. We can see, we can prune, and we can very much drop the bitter plant and leave it back in our past, and waltz into the future eager and unbound.
The whole interview on City Arts and Lectures was marvelous, a great invitation to compassion and engagement, and to remind us that at our core, we are all very much the same.