It did not happen as regularly, for I usually had a grip on my words, but sometimes, I said things—cruel things—in the heat of the moment, amid a loud conversation, in the fit of rage, and it scared me. How much did I know of myself? How much was uncharted? There were places within me even I dare not visit, spots I stumbled upon for the first time now and clearings I did not know I could set camp in. It was not all hidden; some of it was wilfully ignored. We all knew the parts of ourselves we believed in and the parts we did not water. There was nothing to life besides this choice: which part of myself will I worship today? A good life was guaranteed if only we knew how to make the right call.
It was easier said than done. We talked of the greatest injustices in our living rooms over cups of tea and coffee, and then proceeded to smack a beetle with whatever we could grab in the panic-filled buzz of its arrival. Its only fault being how it wandered into the wrong place at the wrong time. It was how most people found themselves caught between the largest of troubles: chance. And what of us, the talkers? We could not fix the infinite problems of the world; all we could do on most days was talk about them, but then what? Right between the bridge of words and action, there was a choice—to act or not, and if so, to act softly.
You see, on most days, for most people, the beetle does not enter the room even though the window is open and even though it can fly through it. It was all chance, after all. On most days, the only thing we had to be for this world was soft. And when the choice came and knocked on our door, it was up to us not to give in to fear, to resist the call from the parts of ourselves we did not endorse. No one liked to admit the cruelty they were capable of; it rarely implied they could not be cruel. When the choice comes, whenever it may be, in whatever form—big or small, when we have to cross the bridge, I hope for all of us, I hope we choose correctly.
Until we’re at the crossroads, I hope the cups stay warm for as many of us as possible, and I hope if a beetle wanders into the room, I hope we are soft. I hope we find a way to guide it out.