It is no secret that my life, sometimes, seems to be shrouded with darkness. Pick a place, look that direction, and you’ll see some form of lingering darkness. It is what happens during those dark moments – it is what we focus on – that makes or breaks the situation. Not all darkness, even if it shrouds the beauty, is a bad thing. This is the mindset I aim to challenge. Please, stay with me for a moment.
Let’s take the picture above. I left it completely untouched, and wanted to share just exactly as it came out of my camera. Yes, the photographer in me wants to fix it up. But, the human being in me wants you to see the natural beauty. Take a peek again at the picture. What do you see? I see the trees. I also see a (not so blue, considering storming) sky. The whole thing is beautiful. But, what makes it beautiful? For me, it’s symbolic in a pretty neat way.
To me, the beauty is nature. The trees. But, in this specific picture is the stark difference between the light and the dark. The light wouldn’t be visible in the same way without the dark. But, the beauty truly is found in the dark parts of this photograph. The beauty is the darkness. The trees aren’t actual darkness. They are the perceived beauty that you see and feel when looking at this picture.
Isn’t that actually kinda indicative of life too? I have another example. I want to share the story of an incredible person.
This person is me. This person is you. This person is the girl down the table that you look down on because she has less than you. This is the boy you choose to think is just fat and uncaring. This person is you. This person is me.
There is a person (the fictional person/people mentioned above) who has come to mean a great deal to me. This person struggles with the pain of life. This person sees life in terrifying shades of muted color much of the time. Anxiety dictates the greater portion of reality, while the noise of life dictates the rest. This person fails to see beauty in things. They look beyond the beauty to the mess. I’ll reiterate that the mess can sometimes (Okay, most ALL times) hurt and have it’s own pain attached, but without the mess, you can’t feel or understand the beauty the same way.
But, back to this aforementioned friend. This person sees pain and darkness – and, in all fairness, other people who see this person see that same pain because they wear their emotions freely. They allow the world to see them, and it frightens them. They allow the vulnerability of transparency because they don’t have the strength to do otherwise. The beautiful thing, though? This person is the very definition of beauty. (Said definition specifically: a beautiful or pleasing thing or person, in particular) This person is surrounded by darkness, by fear and anxiety. But this same person uses that to reach out and offer life giving grace to others. This person allows their own pain to pierce through the darkness and shine the light of friendship and encouragement when desperately needed in other people. They never seem to be able to see their own beauty, but can find beauty in just about anything. They can have faith in other people. When the tables are turned, they struggle to see the same beauty looking back from the face in the mirror.
Why is this, you ask? If I had that answer, I’d be less like that person. But, that person is me. That person is you. That person is my best friend. That person is the kid down the table, or the overweight person considering suicide. That person is me. And that person is you. Deny it if you will. But, if you haven’t ever experienced this darkness, good on ya. Brace yourself. It may be coming. However, if you do have even the iota of a clue what I’m referring to – or if you have this person in your life, let me share a bit about that for a second.
Love them. Give them space. Surround them. Hold them when they can’t stand on their own. Let them know that when they fail in their own head, it doesn’t make them a failure at life. Let them know you care. Show them that you love them. How do you do this? Ask them how they’re feeling. Care about their reply, and don’t just take it at face value. Give a shit enough to actually care. To actually dig deeper when it’s warranted. You’ll know. Allow yourself to be vulnerable to show them they aren’t alone. Biggest thing though – when the tables are turned, allow the same into your life. Give yourself the chance to soak in that same love and joy.
Back to beauty, though.
In many ways, beauty is perception. If you have a pristine condition – no mess. Nothing dirty…you do have beauty. However, if you have to clean up a mess – if you have broken pieces to put back together, or if you have to make the situation pristine (again?) — I can guarantee with nearly 100% accuracy that you will appreciate and not take for granted the beauty…or the darkness you had to walk through to get there.
I guess the point that I’m recognizing is the desperate (vital) need to see the beauty in the darkness. Even taking that a step further, seeing the darkness AS the beauty. Look back at the picture. To me, the darkness creates the picture. Beauty is derived from the dark places. Just keep that in the back of your mind. Recognize that the very things that make your situation dark, will be very thing others may draw strength from, and see as a thing of true beauty. Instead of crumbling under the weight of the darkness, I urge you to allow that to be a stumbling block transformed into a stepping stone, a catalyst to see life and your surroundings differently.
Does that erase the pain of and from inside the dark places? No. Not so much. Does it make it bearable? It does. It is about finding beautiful things when nothing else is beautiful. It’s about seeing and allowing joy to break through the darkness and create happy in the midst anyway. It allows joy. It is a catalyst to propel you away from the pain of the dark, and into the arms of the beauty that coexists in it.
Allow the warmth to hold you. Allow love to BE you. That’s another post upcoming. Love. So much of life is missed because we can’t figure out how to love. Stay tuned…