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Ordinary Beauty

Poetry & Prose | February 11, 2019

I used to think only – always – of Ordinary Beauty

(capitalized definitively) (each time it crossed my mind)

I used to think of Ordinary Beauty as my voluntary faith (as my religion of choice that I so gratefully chose) — It was not worshipped in church with my knees scraping against pews (and it didn’t try to tell me who or how or why I should Be) but it was Always Noticed—

and I saw it in the wholeheartedness of lovers and writers and friends (and artists, especially artists)

And more than anywhere else, in the butterflies that swooped around trees growing up the sides of mountains (in unending efforts to reach the sun’s grace) …

 

It was this Ordinary Beauty that was my explanation (for everything)

— But perhaps explanation is not quite right

I think it was more that, in noticing this Ordinary Beauty, I embraced the opportunity to become a Purveyor

— The Purveyor of Beauty in its Most Commonplace Form—

And other Forces in this (heart-filling) world were clouded as I stuck solely to my quest to find the Wonder in the everyday and the Magical in the mundane

 

But I have been thinking recently about another one of these grand forces: the Familiar Yet Unexpected (which, let me assert, is much different from the Unexpectedly Familiar)

The Familiar, Yet Unexpected:

almost like deja vu, except more aware, consisting of increasingly compelling observations of the small (but not insignificant) occurrences

I found it in the neighborhood girls walking down Elder Lane: holding hands, running to join the tire swing maniacs (in the backyard across the street)—

Familiar, because that had been me on Elder Lane;

Unexpected, because I believed that would only ever be me (on Elder Lane)

Unexpected, because in the single year I had lived in Boston, families, playground games and the atmosphere of my dead-end street had all changed and I could only observe (and feel my heart fill at) the youngest child copying her older sister’s every movement (playing Tag)

 

Familiar, Yet Unexpected:

realizing that parents are people and not the superheroes they once were (or never actually identified as but pretended to be) (for so many years)

The overwhelming sense that parents are simply trying to stay afloat in the same way that we are except that it is (more) complicated because of Having A Family (and Paying The Bills) and Who Gets To Keep Which Friends, Even The College Ones From Before The Divorce

 

Familiar: I know this feeling

Unexpected, because my father is not This Man (he never was)

Yet now, he is That Guy (wholeheartedly)

 

and Who Gets To Keep Which Friends, Even The College Ones From Before The Divorce

Familiar: I know this feeling

Unexpected, because my father is not This Man (he never was)

 

     Yet now, he is That Guy (wholeheartedly)

 

I’ve decided that I want to become a Listener,

to keep my ear to the ground for these subtle intricacies of the human condition

 

(These layers and patterns of empathy that let us understand each other’s souls

as pieces of art: the ways we learn and teach about what it means to truly adore)

 

The intangible things are the hardest to hear (but the easiest to feel)

and I want to listen for them

 

And I want to absorb these emotions and wear them —

I want to carry them with me, their unconventional beauty like jewelry,

like pieces of art

Maybe other forces will arise (or make themselves known) —

like the somewhat dismal (but all-too-rational) sense of Limitation Of Our Wildest Hopes

 

(why do we stop ourselves from wishing for what won’t come true)

(isn’t the wish itself enough)

(shouldn’t it be?)

 

I want to discover more of these feelings that permeate the world (because I want to feel more at peace with the project of being human)

 

I’ve never been one to take a clock apart to see how it works (that is not the type of learner that I am) but I am a person who is interested in the artisan that painted the face of the clock (and when was it made) (and why does it run two minutes fast and it would be convenient to set it back) (but it’s sort of charming in its inaccuracy)

 

I am becoming a Listener for Humanity in the hopes that I will hear an outpour of

Love and Hope.

 

In my 19th summer of living, my home was next to a port where small boats were docked and I swam in the lake (it was radiantly blue) and I could hear the chains of the boats clink together under the water (they chimed like the most delicate bells)

(I thought that fairies were gossiping

 

(and I believed

 

(for a second)

 

in mermaids and their songs))

Familiar, Yet Unexpected (its Ordinary Beauty)