This I Believe

Joan - Clearwater, Florida
Entered on October 17, 2006
Age Group: 65+

I believe in the redeeming wonder of unexpected beauty. For example, a few weekends ago, I had planned to do two full days of overdue outside chores. Early on Saturday morning I came out to do a weather check. Halfway down the driveway I heard the low, but insistent rumble of thunder. In the east dark clouds began to cover the rising sun. Just before the sun disappeared its last rays illuminated an immense thunderhead in the cobalt western sky, coloring it pink….an unlikely mass of cotton candy.. I stared, dumbstruck, till the sun and the color were gone. As the first raindrops fell, my busy outside schedule effortlessly cleared, literally and mentally. I went inside to spend the day happily writing bills and letters, staying in touch with old friends….no resentment, no frustration.

On another evening, caught up in the drudgery of washing pots and pans, I looked out my kitchen window. There in my backyard, sniffing my rose bushes, was one of nature’s least attractive creatures: a possum. This possum, however, was silvered bythe moonlight and apparently out for a carefree ramble. With a bow to anthropomorphism, this was a possum “puttin’ on the ritz”. No downcast head, no dull gray body for him. Colored by moonbeams he was able to charm at least one watcher. After ten minutes or so he melted into the shadows and I looked down to see my task was done. I was energized to go on and clean the junk drawer.

These moments of unexpected beauty are not mine alone. They are out there available to everyone. However, they are like gifts left on your front porch. If you don’t open the door you will never know they are there. If you don’t open your eyes and ears, these moments of beauty till go unnoticed.

Oftentimes as we go through life, it is not the moments of great trauma, illness, accident or even death that cast a pall of grayness upon us. These are transient things, and while I do not mean to minimize their impact, we learn to deal with them. As the old cliche says: life goes on. In fact, that is the problem: life does go on. It is the day to day living with all its monotony and little repetitions that dull my joyin life. When beauty, in sight or sound, makes an unexpected visit, it’s as if whatever power you bellieve in (in my case it’s God) is saying:

“I haven’t forgotten you. And if you’re paying attention, I have something special for you to prove it. ”

I realize that this sounds a little disingenuous….somewhere between Pollyanna and Nellie Forbush, Broadway’s “cockeyed optimist”. These, however, are not real women; they are fictional characters. Perhaps if I lived in their fairy tale world I wouldn’t need cotton candy clouds and silver possums. But here I am in the real world, complete with a yard full of weeds and a kitchen sinkful of dirty dishes. I know I’ll get by, though, because just this morning, weeding in my back yard (in Florida the weeks never have the grace to become dormant) I accidentally disturbed an anole lizard. He immediately rose up to a full one and a half inches, puffed out his brilliant orange underchin pouch and prepared to do battle with someone probably 500 times his size. With little display of beauty and courage behind me, I not only weeded the back yard but mowed it as well.