Disappointment is a horrible feeling. I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy. Yet it is inescapable. The world is flawed, people are flawed. We are all biding our time, bound to be let down by someone or something. What’s the worst is when they’re close to you. Figures who have been in your life for so long, you thought they must be invincible. You built them up in your mind. You believed in them, always thought they would make the right choice, even if you doubted in sometimes. They were hope, they were faith. And then they let you down. Sometimes it’s the little things, built up over time, with one last thing on top of the pile to tip the scale. Sometimes it’s one, big, huge, overwhelming thing. Sometimes it’s a combination of the two.
"Young Goodman Brown" is a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It tells the tale of an average man who takes a walk in the woods with the devil, and discovers more than he bargained for. He sees the minister, the deacon and other influential “good” people in his life participate in a witch meeting. He learns more about his family members than he bargained for.
And his whole world changes.
We all encounter this as we age. I think that everyone that we love starts as a blank canvas in our lives. Paint is strewn, some of it bright and colorful, some of it a deep mix of black and brown that bleeds into an ugly color on the paper. There comes a point in life when you discover that people aren’t everything they seem. When you’re a kid, family members and close friends seem untouchable. They seem good and generally morally sound, and sometimes like they could hold all the answers. But life goes on, and you discover more and more. It’s hard to live your life and not have a few skeletons in the closet. The truth is, as you get older and become an adult yourself, you begin to see the mistakes of the adults around you. The rose colored glasses you lived your whole childhood wearing begin to lose their potency, and you can no longer live your life in denial.
So what happens when someone close to you lets you down? When you find out that a person you’ve looked up to, a person you’ve held in high regard, a person you’ve spent your whole life trying to impress, has done something very hard to forgive?
When Young Goodman Brown encounters this scenario, he allows it to consume him. He loses love, faith, and happiness. He becomes obsessed with it, and he dies in gloom.
Brown let the actions of others, and a betrayal of things he thought to be true ruin his life.
I’m determined not to. People will let you down. It's a fact of life. It's how you let that disappointment affect you... that's what defines you.