Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why Not Hope?

Pessimism is so easy. We live in an age where we are so conditioned to criticism that we fail to understand that the inner voices we hear are not our own. They are the voices of others, embedded in our minds and souls. We are gifted with a heart of compassion and a heart of hope. That's actually how we're made. The rest of it is what is put on by the world. It's our choice to keep it on, and it makes a great shield and a lot of the time that's not a bad thing . . . But every once in a while, just every once in a while, you have to remind yourself that you can take it off.

What causes us to take it off is different for each of us. For some it is a great book, a great wine or a perfectly prepared dish, gracefully served in a great restaurant. For others it's an ice cold beer, a slice of pizza and a loved one's touch. For others it's a beautiful place at a beautiful time, where the din of friendly conversation is drowned only by occasional high spirits, laughter and mirth.

For me, it's art. It's those moments when somebody is doing something that is as close to a natural expression of perfection as they can muster. They are moments when their souls seem to creep a little closer to their skin - when the border between their expression of an ideal and the ideal itself is blurred.

That's not actually possible. We can try all we want, but we can't actually reach the ideal. It's when someone let's go - when they decide that for whatever reason they're going to abandon their personal borders and almost turn inside out, letting the perfect expression of the art form come through, unfettered, with little regard for anything but its expression and the gift it gives back. It's the trying, the true, heartfelt pursuit of something unattainable that we can see if we let ourselves - and in those moments my pessimism fades.

Whatever that takes for you. Give yourself to the moments that let it happen more often. Abandon the easy walls of a jaded world. Let yourself enjoy the moments of beauty. It takes a conscious effort and perhaps actual work but I think if we let it happen we experience beauty in a way that approximates what we were meant to know, in a garden, in a long forgotten, perfect world.

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