July 22, 2023

Hug the Cactus

I saw this Instagram reel of Robert Downey Jr. accepting an award from Mel Gibson. His speech goes:

I asked Mel to present this award to me for a reason because when I couldn’t get sober, he told me not to give up hope, and he urged me to find my faith – didn’t have to be his or anyone else’s as long as it was rooted in forgiveness. And I couldn’t get hired, so he cast me in the lead of a movie that was actually developed for him, and he kept a roof over my head.

And most importantly, he said that if I accepted responsibility for my wrongdoings and if I embraced that part of my soul that was ugly – hugging the cactus, he calls it – he said that if I hug the cactus long enough, I’d become a man of some humility, and that my life would take on a new meaning. And it worked. All he asked in return was that someday I help the next guy.

Hug the cactus—that struck me the most.

We have to embrace the part of us that is (or was) ugly. The part that made mistakes. The part that didn't know better.

Not only does it teach us humility, but it's also the only way to forgive ourselves. To accept imperfection, and to try to do better.