I believe in the beauty and happiness of depressive America, (and other places throughout the world.) Not the beauty of country-side America with rolling hills and mountains, but the beauty of fluorescent lighting in a stench public restroom. I remember the first time I began to see beauty in the slums of this world. I was walking under a bridge on my way to the Navy Pier in Chicago, and I was somewhat disgusted. Trash surrounded me on all sides; homeless people lined the narrow under-passing; the smell of dead fish shot through my nose. But there, on the bridge it-self, was a graffiti done in the colors of a rainbow. The kind that shoots across the sky after a rain shower in spring, you know the ones that only have four or five colors, but are rainbows nonetheless? Two children beaming with laughter, one black and one white, stood holding hands while they were sort of skipping, under a gigantic sun that reflected lightly off the roof of a brick schoolhouse. The title of the graffiti was: Since 1972—Here We Are, Pursuing Happiness through Adversity. The phrase was scratched in red, white, and blue paint. Here, in the midst of garbage, the impoverished, and foul odor, was a pure substance of beauty. After I saw this simply drawn, but not simply minded, piece of artwork, I knew in that moment that I could find beauty and happiness is the darkest of corners of the world.
Be it under a bridge amongst garbage, or in a dark alleyway far from home during a torrential down pour, humans can make the best of it. It is inherent in our existence, and it is how I choose to live my life. Beauty is everywhere; one just has to open their eyes. Many people would probably label me as a somewhat of a pessimist and this is most likely true, but that doesn’t stop me from finding exquisiteness in the dampest parts of the world. It doesn’t have to do with my outlook on life, or my outlook on the future. It has to do with the responsiveness of my heart, and the audacity of my soul. My sense of beauty prevails through my overbearing negativity.
To me, one of the most beautiful places on Earth is a remote hospital in France where the late Jean Dominique Bauby, editor of the French Elle, died. It isn’t the fact that he died there that makes this place so beautiful, but it is the fact that he prevailed through his adversity, in this case a complete paralysis of his body except for his left eye-lid, and through this he wrote a remarkable memoir. This hospital is known for its gloominess; no one comes to that part of France except to visit the hospital, and the sun rarely shines. But here, in this dark and sad place, beauty prevailed through Jean-Do. Beauty outshone his condition; it outshone his negativity; it outshone his adversity. Beauty is a factor that overcomes, and it is why I believe in happiness and beauty, even in this ugly and depressive world.