Beauty and Terror

I took one last look into your bedroom, my eyes filled with life, and turned away. The weakness of human design effortlessly revealed by nature, dissolving structure and breath in a matter of moments. Dogs barked in the alley and neighbors rushed to the scene as smoke settled among us. I remained still, unmoved – shattered. My tears, black from smoke and ash, painted trails on my cheeks. It was as though I was waiting for something, for the whole of life to collapse as well. The morning stars distanced themselves, giving way to the sun, and I remained. I never once glanced towards the sun; heartbroken, I knew it was there. In a moment it had all vanished. In a moment it all remained.

The following months passed with dizzying speed, then years passed, and then it didn’t matter anymore. Leaves fell hard, and for some those leaves were rocks on their backs, but I felt nothing. I was such a sick man, such a selfish man; I hadn’t noticed any of this passing. My sickness and self-centeredness do not excuse my actions; I was well aware of myself, even if my self-deception and delusion were reaching new peaks. Instead of taking responsibility for my disappearance I blamed my actions on the nature of things. Instead of helping others heal I took advantage of their pity; for I was the one with blackened tears and a wounded spirit! I stole years from myself, years from others, and I did it all in the name of self-defense.

Slowly, I began to die. You had always asked about me, worried for me, even had dreams for me. But I knew nothing of dreams or gratitude. You had given me your heart and your words; I gave nothing in return. I left home, trying to keep balance amid the chaos, and distanced myself further from the sun. As the days grew colder, my eyes lost focus. Ice poured from my heart into awaiting hands, slowly forcing each one to retreat. And, forgetting more and more of myself, I retreated as well. A numbing pain was all that was left; and then –

The thick of winter had broken me. Surrender had been given to me and life restored to me. Like a blind man given sight, I have much to discover; I have made so many mistakes, so I have come to offer what I can.

You have left indelible marks on my life. In the past, I was not the type of man who could appreciate your effort and sacrifice; today I am. Your kindness overwhelms me now; I am left with immense gratitude for the moments of happiness which you gave to such a lonely heart. I am of service to those you understand; I see you in their faces and am reminded why I am there. You are one who has given me the strength to show up for others, and though I wish my character were the same back then, I can only hope that somewhere you are smiling.

My mind eases and lets go of the past; I let go of the horror and keep the beauty. I have let go of you and our past, choosing to keep you with me in the present moment, heart beating alongside my heart.

Today let us walk with hazard, setting our sights towards the sun as though we were walking straight into her. There is no parting and no sorrow; we were raised to see life as an unmerited gift, thus we leave this life with gratitude for being born, sentient and feeling. And in many ways this is only life as we know it that is ending; Perhaps this life is the caterpillar and ahead of us is a greater beauty. Perhaps once we make it to the sun we will find butterflies. We never look back, and as fear falls from us we see a glimpse of truth in this world and it is in one another.

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