A Gift

By Leo Rosten

In some way, however, small and secret, each of us is a little mad . . . everyone is lonely at the bottom and cries to be understood; but we can never entirely understand someone else, and each of us remains part stranger even to those who love us . . . it is the weak who are cruel; gentleness is only to be expected from the strong . . . those who do not know fear are not really brave, for courage is the capacity to confront what can be imagined . . . you can understand people better if you look at them—no matter how old or impressive they may be—as if they are children. For most of us never mature; we simply grow taller . . . happiness only comes when we push our brains and hearts to the farthest reaches of which we are capable . . . the purpose of life is to matter—to count, to stand for something, to have it make some difference that we have lived at all.