The Mountain Is Cold, But The View Is Stellar

The Mountain Is Cold, But The View Is Stellar

A tribute to what Charles Frazier's 'Cold Mountain' has taught me about the advantages of heartache
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"I know people can be mended. Not all, and some more immediately than others. But some can be. I don't see why not you." -Goatwoman, "Cold Mountain"

If you know me then you know Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain is one of my favorite books; if you don't know me, well, now you know. It takes place in the middle of the Civil War where strife and heartache wove itself into the everyday conversation of Americans all over the country. It's a tale of romance, heartache, sacrifice, patriotism, and independence.

As someone who has recently felt the low strum of heartbreak, I have found myself searching in my own time for a way to sort through these emotions. I sit now in my favorite hometown coffee shop, when a conversation I am having suddenly reminds me of a quote I have held onto for the last four years, "That's just pain," she said. "It goes eventually.

And when it's gone, there's no lasting memory.

Not the worst of it anyway. It fades. Our minds aren't meant to hold onto the particulars of pain the way we do bliss. It's a gift God gives to us, a sign of His care for us."

As I sit in this coffee shop, wanting more than anything to crawl under my covers and binge watch Netflix, my favorite book has forced me to focus. I have been forced to zoom out and remember how small I am in comparison to this Universe, how menial my temporary pain is in the grand scheme of things. How much I have to be thankful for.

Maybe it's best to remember, certainly not the events which it caused, but the pain itself. To reminisce about heartache because it can't last. It can't. Sure, there will be times when the walls feel like they're crumbling like you can't breathe. Like you're completely isolated in a room full of people. You will question and doubt and shout at God and ask why this is happening to you.

That's okay.

And it's okay to enjoy long walks downtown, to feel the cold air snag the breath in your lungs, to enjoy sunsets, and starry nights, and quaint coffee shops with killer cappuccinos. It's okay to drive with the windows down at midnight and the radio dial up as far as it will go and shout until there is nothing left in the world.

It's okay to write poetry until your hands can't move and there are no words left in the English language to describe the chaos in your brain. It's okay to cry until your body can't possibly produce any more tears.

"You’re left with only your scars to mark the void. All you can choose to do is go on, or not. But if you go on, it’s knowing you carry your scars with you.” Pain is sometimes a side effect of being bold--so is happiness, adventure, and love.

Don't live a life with regrets.

Don't be afraid to love people and love them with everything you have because you will be better because of it. Do things that scare you. Go places that intrigue you. Be a coach, or a diplomat, or an anthropologist, or a scientist, or a stay at home mom. Find what sets your soul on fire and never let it go. Search until home, is not a place, but the smile you wake up to every morning. It's there. Robert Frost is right--we have many miles to go before we sleep.

Cover Image Credit: Eberhard Grossgasteiger

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A Love Letter To The Girl Who Cares Too Much About Everyone But Herself

You, the girl with a heart full of love and no place big enough to store it all.

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Our generation is so caught up in this notion that it's "cool" not to care about anything or anyone. I know you've tried to do just that.

I'm sure there was a brief moment where you genuinely believed you were capable of not caring, especially since you convinced everyone around you that you didn't. But that just isn't true, is it? Don't be ashamed of this, don't let anyone ridicule you for having emotions.

After everything life has put you through, you have still remained soft.

This is what makes you, you. This is what makes you beautiful. You care so deeply and love so boldly and it is incredible, never let the world take this from you.

Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator

You are the girl who will give and give and give until you have absolutely nothing left. Some may see this as a weakness, an inconvenience, the perfect excuse to walk all over you. I know you try to make sense of it all, why someone you cared so much about would treat you the way they did.

You'll make excuses for them, rationalize it and turn it all around on yourself.

You'll tell yourself that maybe just maybe they will change even though you know deep down they won't. You gave them everything you had and it still feels as if they took it all and ran. When this happens, remind yourself that you are not a reflection of those who cannot love you. The way that people treat you does not define who you are. Tell yourself this every day, over and over until it sticks. Remind yourself that you are gold, darling, and sometimes they will prefer silver and that is OK.

I know you feel guilty when you have to say no to something, I know you feel like you are letting everyone you love down when you do. Listen to me, it is not your responsibility to tend to everyone else's feelings all the time. By all means, treat their feelings with care, but remember it is not the end of the world when you cannot help them right away.

Remember that it is OK to say no.

You don't have to take care of everyone else all the time. Sometimes it's OK to say no to lunch with your friends and just stay home in bed to watch Netflix when you need a minute for yourself. I know sometimes this is much easier said than done because you are worried about letting other people down, but please give it a try.

With all of this, please remember that you matter. Do not be afraid to take a step back and focus on yourself. You owe yourself the same kind of love and patience and kindness and everything that you have given everyone else. It is OK to think about and put yourself first. Do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself. You are so incredibly loved even when it doesn't feel like it, please always remember that. You cannot fill others up when your own cup is empty. Take care of yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Charcoal Alley

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Being Selfish Is OK, Sometimes You Need To Look Out For Number One

You have to look out for yourself first.

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As I get older, I find myself making more and more decisions with myself in mind. If I don't see myself happy in the situation, I won't put myself in it, regardless of if it is contingent on other's plans. Living situations, friendships, simple plans for the day all revolve on what I need as a person. If I don't pay attention to myself, who is going to? We've learned when we were younger to always be nice to others and the golden rule, but where does your happiness come into play?

Are you sacrificing your happiness just to make sure everyone else is OK?

There's a time to be selfless and a time to be selfish, and your twenties are the latter. Your twenties are a whirlwind of decisions that often you have to live with for the rest of your life. You decide where you want to live, what kind of education you want, and what kind of person you want to be. Barring lack of funds, your twenties are for you to explore what makes you happy and what you deserve.

They're not for sacrificing time and caring for what other people think.

I'm not saying you must be cold and heartless, or really just a jerk. I'm saying you must protect your happiness, wellbeing and mental health before you are concerned with anyone else. In your twenties you find yourself in so many relationships at once; your close friends, your acquaintances, your significant others. You stretch yourself so thin just to reach out to all of the things you care about. You become attached to people and events that become so habitual that even if they're hurting you, you're willing to accept it.

Don't accept things that are comfy just because you don't think there's anything else out there. Your twenties are most importantly filled with endless opportunities to shape your future. You decide what the rest of your life looks like from your twenties, and would you rather do what makes you happy or what the people around you think you should do?

Self-preservation seems like logic, but being selfish is more than that. Being selfish is being careful who you spend your time with in case they might be draining you. Being selfish is doing what makes you happy at the moment instead of what makes your one friend happy. Being selfish is understanding your limits to social interaction and not being at someone's beck and call.

It's a hard thing to learn to put yourself first, even if it means hurting someone else's feelings or inconveniencing someone else, but it's an important first lesson you learn in adulting. You're the most important person in your life, you make all your own decisions and you have to live with it, so why would anyone else? Choose yourself over everyone else. Give yourself what you need emotionally before giving to others. Don't sell yourself short.

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