Most people associate diamonds and rose petals with Valentine’s Day. I associate the two with poetry and patience – simplicity and soft hearts. A few months ago, my dad recited a line from a poem that resonated with me, although I don’t remember his exact words anymore. I could ask him, but then I’d have to admit that I’m still thinking about it, and for some reason I feel like that would be embarrassing. The poem was about how a rose petal was the only thing that could cut a diamond – quite literally the hardest substance in existence.
I thought this was such a beautiful concept. That softness is the only solution for hardness. That kindness is the only solution for unkindness. It seems so obvious, but too often we respond to anger with anger, or respond to hatred with hatred, and behave in other similar ways, fighting one negative force with another.
It made me think about restaurant waitresses who are in a terrible mood, and how the more polite you are with them, the less irritated they are, and pretty soon a smile even makes an appearance, like the sun peeking out from behind a cluster of clouds. By the end of the night, you leave a bigger tip than usual, just to brighten their day a little bit more, and they thank you with sincerity, smiling a little more at the next customer because they realize that not all customers are assholes.
Two diamonds, two people who are hard of heart, can never get anywhere with one another. However, if even one person is patient and understanding, then the other one eventually softens up too, even if they both still disagree in the end, because it isn’t about who is right – it’s just about reaching a certain level of softness within our hearts, and with one another.
And if you want to voice something that you believe in strongly, part of being listened to, and not just heard or opposed right away, comes with that softness. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what you stand for, because if you aren’t kind, your words and beliefs can immediately lose validity. Maybe that isn’t fair, but it’s what happens, and it’s important to think about people as complex; it’s necessary to think about where they are coming from and how they feel. People are not just the ideologies they represent – they are emotional and they require a certain level of trust in order to be engaged; we all do.
I see people as constantly moving, expanding and shrinking points on the spectrum of softness and hardness. There’s no perfect spot on the spectrum that works for every situation, you just have to figure things out as you go. Just remember that something delicate and fragile, like a rose petal, is the only thing powerful enough to cut something as hard as a diamond. Maybe in geology, this isn’t true, and only diamonds can break one another, but in people, it’s very true. The goal with people isn’t to break them anyways, it’s simply to soften their hearts, and hopefully create a little more space inside of them for the give and take process of love.
Very few things are worth acquiring or achieving if you have to hurt someone along the way. Several of my friends immediately come to mind who are “rose petals,” who bring others down from their high thrones of superiority, or take away that person’s anger or frustration during a conversation or a stressful situation. I hope to be that kind of person myself. Hopefully my wide range of emotions will help me do this, rather than hindering me.
After all, diamonds are hard, and stable, and stable is one thing that is hard for me to achieve. Some might argue that being stubborn has it’s virtues, but I’d argue that drive and ambition require persistence and confidence far more than stubbornness. It’s possible to have that “rosy” personality while simultaneously embodying characteristics such as persistence and confidence. I’ve discovered that although they may be cut from the same fabric, persistence and confidence are different from stubbornness. The first two are just more positive versions of the last, and they are the thread I choose.