Tag Archives: beauty

Terrible Beauty

The sight before him was truly amazing. In all his years of travelling the world and visiting the ends of the earth; he has never been met by such a sight. He was transfixed to the spot held spellbound by what he beheld on his path. He thanked the gods, if they existed ,for the chance to come in contact with such an awesome and remarkable beauty.(the beauty was debatable)

The scene before him exuded strength and yet was surrounded by weakness and sorrow. In this one scene he saw the effects of war, the good the bad and the ugly. He saw the ravages of war on the populace but also saw the beauty of adaptation and survival as people thrived in this environment. Here survival was a reflex conditioned by influences beyond control.

He so wished he could capture the imagery as it was. He had a digital camera but instinctively he knew it will not do justice to the scene. And so he sat down and willed the image to be imprinted in his mind. So that everytime he saw the image, his mind will come alive with the nuances of the characters in the scenery.

Years later he will commission a painting to try and capture the essence of what he saw that day.

On this day the twentieth anniversary of that fateful sighting, the author once again narrated what he saw and what he felt twenty years ago.

On that day two decades ago, he saw strength coexisting with weakness, sorrow living with joy. He saw the strong being supported by the weak and the rich being fed by the poor. He saw children made parents and parents made childless. The paradox of that day was all encompassing as it was engaging. Even today he still could not forget the look in the eyes he saw. The eyes that held him spellbound and kept bringing him back to that little known place at the end of the world.

As the author ended his reminiscing, there was no dry eye in the room and everybody hugged themselves tighter because it seemed like a cold draft just blew across the room.

Dedicated to war survivors especially child soldiers scattered across Africa and the world. May your ordeals teach us to care.

Advertisements

Finding the Beauty within

I was surfing the news this morning when I came to a startling realization: that there is war and conflict in every continent of the world. From minor political conflicts within nations to cross border conflicts among nations graduating to full blown wars both within local borders and international ones, as if that was not enough the news of West Africa battling with Ebola viral Disease is on , the disease has killed more than 10,000 human beings and still counting though it appears to be under control. The terror attacks by Islamic ideologues against innocent civilians are on the rise, young men and women travelling to Syria to apply for the position of “suicide bombers” so they can kill others for their belief are on the increase. Economic conflicts here and there, the European Union and Greece trying to out negotiate each other, citizens in Spain staging anti-austerity rallies. The list goes on and on and it made me wonder: is there still beauty in this world?

The focus on negative news in our world today has made us lose sight of the beauty that still is in the world. The Liberian nursing student who alone nursed 3 family members who had Ebola viral disease to health, the mother that gave birth naturally to a 14 pound baby in Florida, USA, the man in Dubai who was morbidly obese, diabetic and had heart problems who changed his lifestyle and increased his exercise and in 3 months has lost so much weight that his heart has started functioning normally and his blood sugar is on an all time low with minimal medication. We do not see the journalist in America who lost his arm to acute compartment syndrome tell his story of denial , despair and eventual recovery from the loss and his actively conscious effort to focus on the good and live one day at a time.

It was the Chinese philosopher Confucius that said that “everything has beauty but not everyone sees it”. We have to learn to see the beauty in our lives, our environments and then the world. Don’t for a second think you can blank out the negative news, you can instead choose not to focus on them.

This applies more to our personal lives, some mornings we wake up to the realization that a lot of things are not working in our lives as they ought to. I don’t have my preferred job, I am not promoted as I should, I have been married for a number of years and no child yet. My company is recording monthly losses and it looks like I may have to declare bankruptcy soon. It seems that at that moment that you woke up, your entire challenges and difficulties gate crashed into your consciousness and so you think, “My life is a mess, nothing is working”.

It is very instructive to know that nobody’s life is free of challenges or difficulties of one sort or the other. The one worried about job promotion should remember there are those who don’t have jobs, the one worried about not having a child yet should remember that there are some who want to be married and cannot. No matter at what level of life we are, we are always better than somebody. This does not imply we should be complacent in our life’s pursuits rather it should give us the latitude to judge well where we are and where we are coming from; laying a lot of emphasis on what is working for us now.

Your challenges don’t go away, there are solved eventually. The solution most times do not come from an obsession with them to the detriment of all others rather it is easier to find solutions to difficult problems in the silent reminiscing of the good that has befallen us. For him who is gifted sees inspiration in all things but the one who labors to attain the level of “gifted” seeks for inspiration in all things.

“Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them”

                                                                                                                   David Hume

Can you find beauty in yourself and in the life around you? We have become such a noisy society that we don’t even have time again to think and reflect on the nuances of life, our life has by our own design become more outward looking than inward looking. So we see the successes of others and not the challenging journey that brought them there, we can give up anything for fame  which for a lot of young people gets peer group validation. We idolize celebrities but don’t learn from their lives, all because we don’t stop to think. In this age, we have access to so much information that it is immensely hard to determine what is important and what is not. The millenials as this generation is known by, focus so much on what is on the outside than on what is on the inside.

Well this is the time for us to stop and find the beauty on our insides so that we can teach the world that beauty beyond compare still exists in this world because we have found exceeding beauty in ourselves.

Storm clouds

I grew up in my fathers’ stone house in a quiet area of the town. On evenings when usually there is no electricity we sit on mats outside the house to listen to an array of moonlight tales delivered by my mum but authored by those that came long before her. The stories were so engaging that you couldn’t leave without knowing the end, sending us on errands during these periods saw the fastest response time in history because nobody wants to miss a part of the story. After the stories we lay down looking at the skies and count the stars, noting the fading ones and the bright ones.

It is in this phase of our evening enjoyments that we usually notice that sometimes, white clouds cover up the stars and then the winds get cooler than before, when this happens, the adults will tell us to pack up and go inside because rain was a likely possibility. So the rain clouds obscure the beauty of the night sky even if just for a moment, the beauty is replaced by threatening, heavy and dark clouds that change the atmosphere from joy to terror.

This is not so different from our lives; the rain clouds are the threatening uncontrollable situations and environments we find ourselves in. It could be triggered by the people we work, live or interact with regularly, who cause us to react in ways that for an instant hide the beauty of our lives from us and from others that are looking. Have you seen a close friend in the heat of anger, righteous though the anger may be, but at that moment he looses every appearance of the human being you know. He is snarling like a dog and threatening fire and brimstone, he is shouting at the object of the anger and looking for what to destroy, he is uncontrollable, and you wonder, where the beauty is. Somebody described anger or more correctly fits of rage as moments of temporary insanity, is he far from the truth?

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

William Blake

Sometimes the situations that we are thrown into trigger off severe emotional reactions that obscure for an instant the beauty we possess. You are trying your best to be tolerant in the office and so you complain less and overlook more, but a colleague sees it as an opportunity to ride roughshod over you because he feels you lack the capacity to respond to him as is necessary. But one day he does the one thing that is equivalent to the “last straw”: when you approach him you don’t shout, you don’t scream, you just sit him down and for thirty minutes you just dress him down, you assault him with words and when you finally let him go, you know within you that his perception of you has changed forever. Nobody will ever think your tolerance is borne out of cowardice or foolishness again, they will see you from a different perspective from henceforth.

There are not fifty ways of fighting, there’s only one,

 and that’s to win. Neither revolution

nor war consists in doing what one pleases.

André Malraux

Sometimes it is fair and trite to cover up your beauty roll up your sleeves and get in the mud. There are some things due you that you can’t get unless you fight for them. Not just fight but low down dirty brawling. In the words of the country musician Don Williams,” sometimes you have to fight to be a man”. The difficulty here is in choosing how and where to shield your delicate beauty so you can achieve your due reward.

Few things in life are worth fighting for and fewer yet are worth dying for. You should fight for your dreams, you should fight for your loved ones, you should fight for the things that you are passionate about, you should fight for your wife/husband, you should fight for your children, and you should fight for your tomorrow. Preserving the “beauty” of your character should not be important when there is a need to fight for what you hold dear, for instance : to liberate your child from forces you know you are stronger than and even if you are weaker than them beauty should not keep you from trying. Maintaining your demeanor before your boss as he demeans your wife may help keep your job but has definitely killed your marriage, love is worth fighting for.

Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.

Jonathan Kozol

We are men and women not robots, our feelings don’t work on switches. Our feelings don’t have “feelostarts” so that when they reach a particular level they are automatically shut off. Our being intelligent beings allow us to make intelligent choices about emotional decisions especially ones that will change our lives.

A woman has been known to have singlehandedly lifted a Volkswagen beetle that ran her child over and the kid was trapped beneath the car. Fighting is our heritage but we have lost the sense of what to fight for.

It’s easier to see husband and wife fight over divorce settlements than fight to save their marriage, as siblings we fight over inheritances instead of unity, we fight over politicians instead of fighting for good governance, and we fight over who to worship instead of over how to live right. Misplaced priorities are what plague our lives in these days, we are all fighting for something, and the question is, are you fighting for the right thing?

Families ain’t just born; you got to work at ’em,

even when there ain’t much to work with.

Marsha Hunt

The rain clouds may eventually go away without bringing rain and sometimes it only goes away after a torrential downpour. But after the rain comes the sunshine, after the dark clouds comes the clear skies after the weeping comes the smile.

May our rain clouds prepare us to fight for the right things, things that will outlive us not things that will expire before us.