Negative talk everywhere we turn. On television, in the news. From our own President’s mouth. On Facebook. Fires to put out, connections to make, and lies to unravel. Fingers continue to point to evil, unadulterated greed, and lust.
Crime. Drugs. War. Pollution. Collusion. Nasty remarks. Mean-spirited political crossfire and shady dealings. Everywhere we look, the world is a drab and cheerless gray. Racism, hatred, and hypocrisy on display. And of course we can’t ignore it. It won’t just go away.
It’s difficult to find the good stuff amid the precarious piles of rubbish we must wade through just to get to the breakfast table each morning. The disparity between those who have and those who have not will forever remain. A thirst for blood is the wayward plight of the human race. The landscape of our lives is cluttered with the wreckage we gather from broken promises, illicit favors, incurable illness, abject poverty, and ulterior motives.
What the heck can we do?
We can sift through the piles for glimmers of hope, things shiny and free to hold. Because if we must digest the bitter, can we not enjoy what is sweet and soul-satisfying too? In order to survive this world, it is essential to observe and savor a leveling balance in our lives.
I covet raw beauty – the organic beauty that comes to light without a filter or provocation in this jaded, dirty world. And it is indeed there for me to find, as long as I remember to look.
When I see it, (which is often) I allow it to drench my tired, suspicious soul. And I fall into bed at night saturated with the goodness that this world has always offered me.
Yesterday, a very young woman with a hot pink scarf tied around her bald head, fighting illness and despondency, still sent a radiant smile in my direction as she pushed her cart of assorted groceries. She sauntered along slowly, with her Chai tea, and her mint milano cookies, her ramen noodles, and her Halibut. She smiled the grateful smile of life, and lit up the aisle with her essence, her spirit and her steadfast will. Her raw beauty captivated attention, despite obstacles, real and present.
And an overweight man, huffing and puffing down at the track, giving it his all, doing the “the healthy thing,” raised his pumping fist in my direction as we passed, in a show of solidarity. We share the same battle, the ongoing battle, to love ourselves enough to take care of ourselves. Like me, he is just a person, fighting the good fight, with fist–clenching determination. I saw his raw beauty beneath the surface of his struggle.
I witnessed love deep, in the eyes of my dog. He stared at me long, and waited patiently for me to look back at him. He put his head in my lap and told me with his eyes and twitching brows everything he wanted me to know, which was, I love you, yes I do, I love you deep. I relished raw beauty, solid and true, in the loyalty of my furry, little, pain-in-the-ass friend.
And this past weekend, the wind howled his name, first through my hair, then across my face, it asked, do you remember me, your daddy, your daddy in heaven? For I am watching you, on this wind-whipping day, how cold it is, freezing, indeed, absolutely perfect, the temperature, I’d say, for something like ice fishing, don’t you think? I wrapped myself up in the raw beauty of the vivid memories I have of my father that come flooding to the surface in winter.
My husband’s arms, wrapped around me at the sink this morning, showing his friendship, his care for me, through it all, all of my bullshit, bringing me toast, and coffee, and sneakers, his love born from giving, an unselfish love that goes beyond divine. I recognized the raw beauty in the tender love of a stable man who hasn’t changed his mind.
And raw beauty one night, by chance. An old woman, with crepe paper hands, who heard a Beatles song, and hopped up to dance. I watched her beauty raging, seeping from every pore of her youthfully vibrant, still-standing ways.
And it was present, too, last week, in the three-year-old who showed me how to hold a pencil. She was crying and kicking, and missing her mama, so I sat her in my lap, and she showed me how she could write the first letter of her name, J, before a tear-soaked smile emerged from her sad, missing mama face. Just a little child, having a little moment, a moment of faith inside her confusion. I held her raw beauty, her innocent trust, while she drew smiley faces with giant “O” eyes, and long, squiggly mouths.
I saw it as I cruised by the farm, “my” farm, nestled in the valley, nice and neat, square, railed in, with small, puffy, winter-coated animals making their way around. Green surfacing in the distant hills ahead, and birds chirping, and cars passing, my feet pounding, and me, alone, soaking it up, all of it, healthy legs and lungs, going the distance. I inhaled the raw beauty of my own conquered fears inside what can only be described as a bucolic postcard.
Raw beauty feeds my hungry soul amid the chaos and corruption championed by those who seek power.
I try to hold them, the fleeting, raw, beautiful moments, before they pass, before they fade to nothing. They are small moments, yes, but they matter. Seeking beauty in this dirty world is about savoring love, resistance, strength, innocence, memories, loyalty, and our own, personal journey.
And it can be as strikingly profound as watching an old woman jump up from her seat to rock out.