The Goodness of Others

Photo by Raquel Reyes.

Photo by Raquel Reyes.

When times feel like nothing really ever changes, I am suddenly in awe of the goodness of others, of unexpected goodnesses that strike you out of left field and break your heart — but in the best way possible, the kind of heartbreak that you would happily live in for the rest of your life. The kind of heartbreak that leaves you crying unashamedly in a crowded room, crying tears of some sadness-become-joy that you don't fully understand.

Sadness over the fact that other people feel a sadness, but that your shared sadness is built around understanding of your shared goodness, and so it becomes joy. And, for what will each and every time feel like the first time in your life, you will feel good. You will feel worthy. You will feel someone's equal in goodness. And even though you're far from very good, you're still a person and you're still everybody's equal. You will feel human. You will feel justified. Your consumption of the base elements of life will feel worthwhile, not just because you have made someone else feel such a thing, but because you have felt it. You have felt something so beautiful and good, and it feels enough to justify all of humanity's existence.

I feel these things and I am unable to care so much about the end of the world. I cannot care where we die, on Earth or on Mars or somewhere orbiting Betelgeuse. The only thing that matters is that human beings can encounter other human beings and make each other feel something so beautiful and so good. When we die it doesn't matter that we had felt those things. What matters is that we feel those things now.

When the time comes you can hope to die with a hand ruffling your hair,with your face against a breastbone. To die crying happily. To die your way out of a body that has done those things is how to die. You have accomplished your goal as a human being, which is to have been human. It's enough to make you want to live as long as you can, but also enough to make you unafraid of death, because whatever comes after, or doesn't come after, is rendered, at minimum, acceptable, because of the life you led on Earth.

It’s easy to get caught up in this, though it is only the beginning. Understanding your own goodness is important, and self-creation is important, but it cannot dominate your life, because your goodness means nothing in a vacuum. You mean nothing in a vacuum. Seek it, share it.

The goodness of others is vital to the goodness of yourself.

Annie Jo Baker is 23 and lives in Kentucky. They have a myriad of interests, including science, literature, and activism.