Image by: John Cameron via Unsplash
Growing up in a burning house, you can begin to feel like the whole world is constantly on fire. Many young people learn to find peace in total isolation. In a time of desensitization, it can be hard to open up to others about what we are going through. There is so much bad all around us that it becomes easy to slip into a jaded mindset and stop appreciating life for what it is. For many people, any one experience could be enough to harden them. Throughout my life, I have met countless people that are closed off because of their hardships.
Just like everyone, there are parts of me that have emotional roadblocks out of self-preservation, but I have never become jaded. I try to find beauty in the world and in others. This love is something I am so grateful to have found within myself. There is a reading entitled “Love is Difficult” by Maria Rilke that spoke to me that reads, “With their whole being, with all their forces, gathered around their solitary, anxious, upward-beating heart, they must learn to love” (Rilke, 39). As the title suggests, to love is not an easy or seamless process. When we are born, we learn to love based on the attachments we are presented with, and when we are teenagers we learn to love correctly.
Being able to grow in your love for the world and others is a gift. I have met a few souls that are open to tell their hardships, ready to listen to mine and are so vulnerable it encourages others to be too. I think it is impossible to describe the all encompassing love on earth, but I am able to see it in little and big moments like the disbelief in a new mother’s eyes after giving birth, the comradery of a friend who just will not let the people they love struggle alone, or even just people who are amazed at every sunset and every moon even though they happen every night. I remember reading something in middle school that said ‘how strong must you be, to be kind despite it all,” and it has stuck with me forever.
I spoke to a previous professor of mine about why he would consider certain people to have a good soul. “I would consider them beautiful because of their outlook on life.” Essentially saying that someone who is able to persevere, have a positive outlook and seek the good in life is beautiful. “It’s not that they do not have bad moments or make bad decisions but that they are good despite that. They exude good.” I felt as though this was so important because he is stating that beautiful souls do not always have to be perfect, but instead are beautiful because they are human and real. They expect nothing in return for their kindness or love. This distinction reminded me of “The Psychology of Optimal Experience” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi which states “Happiness is not something that happens. It is not a result of good fortune or random chance. It is not something that money can buy or power command… (it must be) cultivated and defended privately by each person. People who learn to control inner experiences will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any of us come to being happy” (Csikszentmihalyi, 163). The same way that happiness is unable to be made a controlled variable within us, goodness is also something that must be protected and watered to grow.
Many people think being strong means to be self-sufficient and independent, but the truth is that humans were not made to operate without help. Those who are able to provide that love and care back into people’s perspectives have good souls. There is so much beauty in caring for others even when it may ‘take’ from you. I would define a beautiful soul to be someone who grants others kindness and ensures peace in life. Those who have endured tragedies and experienced extreme loss or pain and come out the other side good or to help others are beautiful people. I am constantly humbled by the acts of genuine kindness in the world and strive to live similarly.
Emily Hart is a fourth-year English major. EH943163@wcupa.edu