The Case for WiseningOn our way for sushi today, my friend tells me today, “Sometimes being cynical is a good thing.”

“I don’t think being cynical is good,” I say.

“Yes, it can be a good thing, Brown. Not always, but it can be good. It can save you. Well, not save your life, but…”

“Save heartache?” I ask.

“Yes,” he says. “Say you hear someone likes you, and you’re cynical about it and choose not to pursue it, and then you find out that that person was never into you in the first place. See? Being cynical just saved you.”

And in an instant, I think: Saved you from what? From taking a chance? From being embarrassed? From feeling exposed?

And I wonder, less in words and more in pictures and feelings: Is this the way people think? Is this how I would think if I didn’t write and take that exposed chance every day? Artists aren’t out there trying to suffer to create art, but they aren’t protecting themselves from life, either. You have to put your heart out there, and sometimes it gets stomped on, and that’s okay because you pick up the pieces differently each time and you grow in vast new directions and look at the world through ever clearing and ever wisening eyes. And even though wisening isn’t a word, it should be because wisdom is a process, and one you can only walk, putting one foot in front of the other deliberately, not with rushing force, and certainly not by standing still grasping at cynicism as life moves along without you.

The light changes to green, and I come out of my wisening mental argument, and we proceed on our way to sushi.

“The saying is ‘live and learn,’” I say. “The ‘live’ part comes first for a reason.”

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. To learn more about her current writing projects, or for ways to donate toward their completion, see