I am not drawn to the familiar but to that which is different, whether a different geography, a different culture, or a different perspective; that is, a different way of seeing. For me, in writing, it is beautiful to make the empathetic leap, living in someone else’s skin for a while.
Beauty consists of layers of memories and colors as vivid as a sunset after a busy day or as distant as the mountains of my parents’ village in Lebanon. I remember a colleague placing a beautiful bouquet of flowers at my desk when I returned to work after my father’s death. Grief made me sluggish but that beautiful arrangement helped me make it through that first day back at work.
The boy took a shell from the unbroken pile. “Look at this shell. It’s perfect, without a single flaw. It’s shiny and smooth, no cracks or chips. It doesn’t remind me of anyone I know. But this shell,” he said, taking one from the other pile, “is like the people in our village, this shell is like us. There are rough edges, and deep cracks. It wears the scars of a full life, yet it is still a shell. To me, this shell is more beautiful than all the others.”
“The most musical moment” is trying to fill us up with something meaningful and everlasting, and it is trying to create, and gift us, what is probably one of our most precious possessions, a memory.
The key aspect of time is its eternal beauty, experienced by us in short snippets if we are perceptive of our present time. If we focus much on the beauty of the past, or the beauty to come in the future, we would fail to see and experience the current moments of beauty surrounding us.
I see beauty in groups of women marching en masse in Washington, D.C., peacefully, passionately, wearing pink ‘Pussy Hats,’ while waving witty signs. Beauty is being able to breathe the still unpolluted air, before the EPA is completely gutted, on a walk through a National Park that hasn’t yet been closed or sold to a corporation for drilling rights, knowing this is perhaps a fleeting pleasure.
As the cascade of light is dimmed toward moonlight, I curl over onto my side. I admire his spine; I imagine his face. He lays waiting beside me. For without me, he remains silent.
It is the tremble of anticipation, the held breath. It is found in the exact second when the parachute does’t open, in the lingering space between fingertips when lovers part. It is the infinitesimal moment between my girlfriend’s sleepy eyes lighting on me beside her and her first morning smile.
To capture beauty is to restrain its infinity, its abundance and its multiplicity. My story is about the transience of beauty as manifested by Antonio’s successive failure at capturing his lover’s face. What we have left of beautiful things is their essence and our memories of their existence but even that eludes most of us sometimes.
Our concept of beauty stems from our consciousness of the passing of time. The five senses guide us through our days and every so often a composite image, person, or scene has the capacity to activate our emotions and blind us with desire.
For humans, beauty is chance and randomness, but, still, even without our witness, beauty is forever present. It is made from the various combinations that exist within and around us, and just as the possibility of experiencing beauty is a function of the aforementioned, so too is its creation.
What I do know about complex things like beauty is this: when we reach the silence of ourselves, and really listen to it, I hope it becomes an instant which spawns enlightenment, clarity and comprehension.