Beauty

“La Dispute”, track number 13 off of the soundtrack to Amalie is genius… it is absolutely wonderful. It starts out very simple, seemingly nothing to the melody at all. Then a smaller, secondary voice, almost too scared to fully sound out, adds its voice to the sparse melody. After a somewhat tense, breath holding showing of the structure of the melody… the voice switches to a rich piano and the secondary voice becomes the accompanionment rhythym of a 3/4 waltz. After a while it switches ot a 5/8 melody (I believe, I’ve always had problems reading 5/8 music). But the music contains all the elements in it that I love the most about great music… in that within the microcosm of the melody there lies the macrocosm of the human existence. In this little melody there is happiness, joy, hope, despair, cooperation and struggle. Whenever I play this soundtrack and this piece comes on I stop what I am doing and give pause to absorb the hauntingly beautiful melody. I wear my heart on my sleeve, but I disguise myself too and hide from people as much as I show myself. I am better now than I was, but I am still seeking “real”. Can I be real with someone else… anyone else? Was I real with my family recently? No. I hid a lot of things from them, such as lying when my grandmother worriedly asked me if I wanted to go over to Iraq… I said “no” to appease her frail and worried heart. My father, standing next to me, watched me and understood the lie that I was telling. Did he know that I tell equal lies to him as well? I am not ashamed of my views and beliefs… I’ve walked too long of a road with too much pain to hide my beliefs under the mattress from the glare of my family as though they were a dirty magazine. No… I choose my battles and in the concern of my family I choose not to battle on some issues, namely my standing as a Christian (I am not one) because of the intensely emotional feelings my family has toward this.

This is a sidetrack. The topic is “real” and I cultivate “realness” when I am alone, searching for a better understanding of myself so that when I am in the sea of people around me with their social pressures and such I can act in according to my “real” self. What is “real”, what isn’t real… what is personality? Good questions that have teased me for a decade now and I am no closer to understanding them than when I first started down the road of such questioning. Reading in A River Runs Through It, Mclean says that while fishing for a trout he imagines that the trout is more than just a creature moving along the demands of fear and hunger, that perhaps the trout also understands a sort of beauty. It is a wonderful thought, but the inverse of this thought is worthy of consideration. How much of our lives as humans are lived along the dynamics of fear and hunger? Hunger might mean more than just a physical need for a meal… it might be a craving for something (even if only psychological… but then again what isn’t psychological?). I was recently in an intimate position with someone and again, as before, I felt a hunger. It was as though I realized that I was hungry and before me sat a large feast. Should I maintain a fast simply because of an ideal? What if that ideal didn’t really exist at all save in my own creation of such in my own mind?

What a gordian knot the human heart is. Attraction and desire, wants and needs, sometimes running in counter to each other. You can want what you cannot have, have what you do not want, want what you do not need, and need what you do not want, all the same time.

What is real? I don’t know. Aristotle spoke of a mean path, Socrates spoke of not assuming what you do not really know, Voltaire against raising humans out of the muck they live in, Nietzshe about teleological directives, Spinoza with a grand overarching belonging… but what do these things mean to the real person? Kierkegaard’s “the truth by which I might live and die” rings true. For him it was Christianity (a very different brand than that of the bible belt’s), but what is it for me?

Recall the movie American Beauty, the ending when Kevin Spacy talks about beauty in the world… so much beauty that his heart fills like a balloon, as though it would explode… until he breathes and relaxes and beauty flows through him. I cannot grasp it, when I do it is gone. I stop to admire a flower or like last night I walked outside the club for 20 minutes to watch the sunset. I cannot hold onto these moments and when I try, I lose the moment.

Beauty is all around me, it is everywhere I look. I cannot put it there, I cannot turn over a rock and find it, it is not a quality in the things themselves that I can bring in something beautiful from one place and place it into a room and make the room beautiful. Such might have an effect, but it is a quick effect and does not last. Beauty is projected as much as it is seen. We see what we hold deepest in our hearts and the heart that is beautiful sees beauty everywhere. My moments in beauty are not as many as I would like. My moments of fear and anxiety and doubt and fogginess and a million other concers outnumber my moments in beauty. But I try. When I came back inside the club yesterday I was asked if I was watching the sunset and I replied that I was. I said, truthfully, I place more importance on watching a sunset or stopping to smell a flower than I do in arriving to work on time. The party recieved the statement as half-hearted poetry but I was serious. My longest standing wish, when I see a shooting star or toss a coin into a well, is to be happy (begging the question, what is happiness). Happiness is, I believe, an effect of beauty. I believe there can be no happiness without beauty… and no beauty without happiness. I am reminded of a quote I came across a couple years ago in Houston… “people are incredibly happy if they’d only stop to realize how happy they really are”. Those are the exact words but the meaning is the same. Happiness is now and it is like a switch in the mind. How to turn it on and off is a mystery that I am only sometimes successful in cracking.

When I die I hope to have a heart of beauty. Beauty is its own reward.

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