I’m also reminded of how those words no longer belong only to me; how, when we identify with what another has said or written, we use those words as an articulation of our own inner voices, not only as a celebration of theirs.
Winston Churchill was encouraging his countrymen to endure the profound hardships and terrifying uncertainties of World War II when he said, “Never give in,” but in the seven-plus decades since he uttered those words, countless people have applied that simple but powerful phrase to inspire them to push through their own struggles, large and small, humble and inane (and, OK, in my case, hiking-related).
At my book signings it’s become a common request that I inscribe copies of Tiny Beautiful Things with variations on my “Write like a motherfucker” quote. Engineer like a motherfucker, I’ve written. Mother like a motherfucker. Teach like a motherfucker. Doctor like a motherfucker. And my favorite of all: Do everything like a motherfucker.
Which was always, of course, the point.
The best quotes don’t speak to one particular truth, but rather to universal truths that resonate—across time, culture, gender, generation, and situation—in our own hearts and minds. They guide, motivate, validate, challenge, and comfort us in our own lives. They reiterate what we’ve figured out and remind us how much there is yet to learn.
Pithily and succinctly, they lift us momentarily out of the confused and conflicted human muddle. Most of all, they tell us we’re not alone. Their existence is proof that others have questioned, grappled with, and come to know the same truths we question and grapple with, too.
I hope Brave Enough serves that purpose for you. Read it like a motherfucker.