Cynicism, I believe, is mostly thwarted idealism. We are cynical because we can imagine a better world but have despaired of the possibility of achieving it. As we get older, I think this can have two results (well, likely more than two, or variations or degrees of the two, but simplification is necessary or we’ll be here all day): either 1) we become irredeemably bitter, OR 2) we learn to accept, and we thus become softer around the edges, more tolerant, more loving. Thankfully, the latter does seem to be what’s happening to me.
As I close in on my thirty-first birthday, I frequently find myself wanting to go back and apologize for the behaviors and attitudes of my ten-years-ago self. At twenty-one I was hot-headed, NEVER WRONG, and much less forgiving, I think, than I am now. If I’m being honest, this condition probably persisted through most of my twenties.
Reading back over old short stories and blogs, I am stunned at how harsh, how judgmental I sometimes was toward people who were just trying to live their lives the best way they could or knew how. I’m sure, sometimes, I hurt them with my presumption that I knew a better way, and I’m sorry for that now. I’m sure that I still sometimes fall prey to the folly of believing I know better, but I think, and hope, that maybe I’m at least a little more self-aware, a little wiser, and a little more loving with each passing year.
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