A Terrible Beauty Has Been Born

Photo Credit:Danny Müller/Unsplash

Nineteen frosty outside, according to my mobile device, and not likely to go much higher than that.

It’s now lighter at the end of the day, and darker to begin it, but the dark edges are being ineluctably pushed back by unstoppable forces. There’s no pulling it back and the soul of the people stirs and the deep soul of the planet stirs. Like that faint breath, of whose source you’re not clear, seems to hint of a wood fire burning, there is a hint of movement and renewal. One can sense the deep ways of the earth and the life thereon and the power and the abundance and the way it can feel like home and foreign country all at once.

Beauty is here, I know it, even if hard to see at first in the dirty torn snow that remains and the vegetation as brown as the utility pole, for all the world lifeless as the naked black limbs and branches scratching at the sky to the north. Bunch grass by water still frozen suggests a dirty mop. All is matted down and mixed with litter and sand and gravel and old dog shit.

A plastic bag caught on the alley fence bobs and weaves like one of those small country airport wind balloons. It arrests your attention, the only moving thing in an otherwise still and silent tableau. It’s white and commercial and out of place and ugly and you can’t help looking, like at TV in a bar or the gym.

Natural melty brown drama is being enacted all around and could pass as drab and colorless and hostile to high spirits. Yet, the buildings and trees to the east are slowly backlit by the spreading dawn light to the east. The starkness of the black crow on the top of our neighbor’s tree occurs to me like a living apostrophe, suggesting perhaps “Wait, something’s missing, something’s implicit. Look deeper.”

Photo Credit:Alexander Sinn/Unsplash

The question for me remains: How is this beautiful? Easy to see ugly, better to look for beauty.

One way to view cold is as the reason we know heat, rather than making it bad or wrong. That may be said for dark, too. It is the reason we know light. Cold and dark are not just negations of warm and light. They are teachers.

Deep learning here is possible about noticing the absence of something and how at least that is awareness. There’s no off switch to wanting more, there’s only override, or work with, or run alongside like with a shadow. No outrunning it. That’s the rough-and-tumble of real damn life.

We have now, but we want tomorrow, we have March but we want May. We have restrictions, we want freedom. I can hear my high school football coach telling us to play through the whistle. It’s like splitting firewood by aiming through the wood to the chopping block. Or how, as a commercial boat captain, you can never let down your guard. The trip isn’t over until you’re tied up back at the dock. All the way through to the end.

All has changed and changed utterly this past year, to paraphrase Yeats. A terrible beauty has been born, but we may need to look a little deeper and wait a little longer.

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