I’m never surprised by love anymore. It can contain and withstand anything. Time. Sorrow. Joy. Disappointment. Sexual passion. Betrayal. Generosity. Pettiness. Ten thousand ordinary days.

Each of these letters tells a story about one kind of love. The letters I felt most drawn to evoked a drama that took place mostly off-the-page. The letter was only a glimpse of what was really there, which isn’t just love, but life itself. I’ve never doubted that love was at the center of it all—of who we are—and the older I get I am only more certain of it.

I give a lot of advice in my column. If I had to boil all the advice I’ve given down to one thing it would be to err on the side of love. That’s easier said than done because many times we confuse love with something else—with fear or insecurity or doubt or a lack of boundaries—and so instead of erring on the side of love, we wind up erring on the side of our weaknesses.

So how do you err on the side of love if you don’t really know love’s dimensions? I think you have to simply keep on trying, keep on loving, keep on being mindful about one’s losses and gains. Someday it will be apparent to you. You’ll look up and see love standing very still beside you. Stand with it.


Cheryl Strayed is the author of #1 New York Times bestseller WILD, TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS, and the novel TORCH. Strayed has written the "Dear Sugar" column on since March 2010. Her writing has appeared in THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS, the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Allure, The Missouri Review, Creative Nonfiction, The Sun and elsewhere. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and their two children. Learn more about her work on her website.