i remember my first affair.
The day i found out my college boyfriend was cheating on me. And when i found out, i believe, to my best recollection, that i didn’t eat for about 4 days. Not because i wanted to get all skinny and shit… i just couldn’t eat. my stomach was in knots. i was devastated.
here’s what she said, “it will happen again.”
so i discovered something. the track. i started to run. i put on my yellow sony walkman (yeah, all you 70’s babies… take THAT ride with me) and just started running around the track outside my dorm, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine.
Weird thing. I started gaining something totally unexpected. Had been an athlete my whole life, yet running always had made me want to puke. It was ugly, damn ugly.
But this first run, on this track, it was probably about 60 laps… i was a damn Forrest Gump out there. The ugly unlocked something beautiful.
And through the running, i was able to start thinking clearly, and through the thinking clearly, i was able to gain confidence.
And then, a couple years later, while working as a young professional fresh out of college… i had the affair.
I won’t go into details, it’s not important, at least not for this post.
The point is, we are all imperfect. I have cheated, i have lied, i have stolen, i have hated.
But you know what? I am a lover, and a fighter, and someone that will defend your ass to the moon if you have my loyalty. My life is chaos, but it’s driven out of the desire to be better. And i know, with absolute certainty, that i would not be that way if the ugly hadn’t happened.
So let’s give a shout out to the ugly. Let’s embrace it, honor it, OWN it.
When is the last time, walking around with a camera, you’ve shot something that under any other circumstances, you would have walked by without noticing?
It’s amazing, as i look through my kajabillions of photos, how many are of really ugly things. I don’t know why i’m attracted to them, but i am. I use them as backdrops, as illustrated by one of my favorite ugly things, the port-a-potty:
i find them all the time as i walk city streets:
i see it on it’s bad hair days:
(this is the male version of high-waisted jeans, by the way.)
I see it in it’s randomness:
and in it’s sadness:
at it’s ugliest:
and when it’s working it’s hardest:
and yesterday, on a walk with my dog, i took my iphone and found beauty everywhere ugly:
take your camera, and take pictures of the ugly.
If you walk by it in search for the beautiful, or the perfect, like the forbidden affair, you just may miss the very thing that takes your breath away.
Very well-spoken and again from the heart.Your mom said it best- write write write- you have a magnificient way with words.
Thank you, Laura. It’s not easy putting these out there. So you’re words are so appreciated!!! xo.
That last sentence really got to me. It’s a lot to think about.
A) I remember that guy — dancing machine. Sorry to hear that.
B) I still have my yellow sports Walkman, not sure why.
C) (this has to be read with a Beavis/Butthead voice in mind): “your picture has ‘weiners’ and ‘tongues’ in it – heh heh!” “Yeah, weiners and tongues…heh heh.”
D) I remember those Syrian goat heads.
E) “The phenomenal world resists all our doomed efforts to arrest transience. We humans seem to have designated a few examples of this fact as beautiful: the cherry blossoms that fall almost as soon as they bloom; the brief display of blazing autumn leaves; the bubbles we blew as children, those iridescent spheres that vanished as they floated by. Sunsets transfix us, seem to soothe us with their undeniable evening truth: finished, over, changing into something else. These fadings can’t be doctored, and this “defeat” awakens us to the inherent beauty of what cannot be fixed in time.
So what might happen if we stepped more fully beyond the bounds of conventional aesthetics? We would see the loveliness of a cracked china teapot, a pile of rusty keys, a rocking chair–like the one I have–whose broken rocker resists the glue with which I keep trying to repair it. What if we left the flowers to shrivel in the vase, allowed the peeling paint of a front door to reveal its layers of color, right down to bare wood? What if we looked in the mirror and appreciated the scar, the asymmetry, the wrinkles and gray hair, the age spots and the sagging skin? What if we lived with a wilderness mind, in which change is the only constant, and the process of decay is recognized as beautiful?
– Jane Kornblatt, “This Ruined House,” PARABOLA vol. 35 no.4”
(from: http://www.firstunitariancleveland.org/sermon/20110206 — which you might like as well)
F) Pink Floyd, lyrics from “Wish You Were Here”. Blows me away every time.
G) A long, long time ago, I read something that had a phrase like “…he/she had come to understand that there is, often, great beauty in sadness…”. And in Heinlein’s classic “Stranger in a Strange Land”, the protagonist comes to understand that humor, fundamentally, is based on cruelty.
Me – I like art that’s ‘unsettling’, somehow — I’m a big fan of Bruce Nauman. I loatheRococo (Boucher, Fragonard). One of my Favorite Albums of All Time is Pretty Hate Machine, by NIN; and Tears For Fears and Depeche Mode still rock. I love Diane Arbus’ photography, not so much Ansel Adams. Neruda, T.S. Eliot, and Emily Dickinson (“my candle burns at both ends”) just rock.
I think, maybe, it comes down to this: chaos, entropy, disorder, decay — that’s the natural order of things. We go from the amazing, perfect health of a child to adolescence and zits and puberty to wrinkles and ear hair and baldness and menopause to old age and senescense and death; flowers bloom, wilt, and die; stars and even galaxies are born from the wreckage of ruined ones. (Our own sun is probably the product of at least one and probably two previous supernovae — ‘deaths’ for a star…)
But at some level, we grasp the unlikelihood, and embrace the miracle, of being able to fight the tide; to roll that boulder against gravity up the hill; to create and build and grow — if only for a little while. And THAT, I believe, is ‘beauty’.
And ‘sad’ art reminds us, I think, by way of contrast, to embrace that which IS beautiful.
Watch this (maybe a few times): I can’t not cry when I see it.
Love – your brother.
As you usually do with your openness and thoughts, this one in particular hit me. 100% agree and continually work to love the beauty in ALL we experience. Getting over the perception of ugly and embracing the true joy life gives is the ultimate, isn’t it?
Time can afford us that. Daughters make it oh so clear. We only hope they embrace it sooner than we did, revel in it all, don’t beat themselves up for “stuff”. But the journey is necessary to build on, so they too will experience the ugly that truly is the beauty.
I appreciate the sisterhood, even with distance of life, time and miles between us that you share. keep it up.
Jules, that means SO much. thank you for your amazingly kind words and for understanding what i was really experiencing! To our daughters! hugs, AC
I am in utter amazement AC… your writing is beautiful, wisdom filled and a gift!
I am always in utter amazement of YOU, so thank you for being a newly found force in my life. as always, i so appreciate your words. xo.
Diva’s right; you do rock.
well thank you! i’m glad you are enjoying my blogs!!! guess we both have Diva to thank!