Sunday, September 16, 2012

Beauty and War

When I read something which forces me to question the difference between horror and beauty, and then makes a strong case for the connection between them, I have to pause and consider whether I'm a monster for seeing any good or whether reality just hit me square.

Lately, I have my students reading different stories, fictional and not, about war and its aftermath, and while this discussion verges on the sublime, I've been thinking that everyday wars we wage with ourselves count, too.

It's odd to find beauty in a place you don't expect. Especially when that place is your deep dark place.

For instance, I find it annoying about myself that I tend to whine about everyday little things, even when I promise to myself I won't do it. Of course, there may be good reasons, sometimes: not having gotten sleep; being sick; dealing with insufferable students; feeling injustice. Even as I grind my teeth I know I need to stop, and it's quite like the literal "watching a train wreck" from inside. It's something I'm working on, but in truth, even when I'm at my worst, I find my(real)self in new ways .

One day, when I was so frustrated about something that it was all over my face, Isabella, as all good children do, picked up on it. She paused, looked at me, and called me. Getting up close to my face, she gave me her biggest smile and said "Mama, haaaapppppy!"

To be a child again!

In a time when humans do dastardly things, and treat each other shabbily, it would do good to remember the child's view of things. We adults want to protect little ones from the darkness, but that child's inner compass, built right in, knows how to focus on the good. Our experience blinds us, wills us away from the simplicity.

Thank goodness there are children to remind us of what we once were.