Sunday, July 18, 2010

Don't Turn Your Back On The Beauty of Life

So, as most of you know, I had the incredible opportunity to work a trip to Anchorage, Alaska this past week. And, like I've said, the scenery, the clean air and the people just completely won my heart.
One of the especially cathartic experiences was a very long walk on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, which meanders along Cook’s Inlet, from, downtown to the airport. (The word "very" is inadequate. I walked approximately 15 miles that day, then worked a seven-hour flight, only sitting for a total of 40 feet, legs and glutes are still not particularly happy with me.)
As I walked along this trail, I saw beautiful sites. Scenery that was, at the same time, breath-taking and life-giving. It was as though every bend in the path, lead to a knew sensation of awe. (One scene in particular, forced me to stop and write poetry. I think this image of majestic mountains piercing whimsical clouds over a beautiful lagoon simply mandated a poetic response to its grandeur.)
If you know me, and my weak emotional restraint, you'll find it no surprise that on so many occasions, I could be heard (literally) laughing out loud, or seen crying, at what my brain and heart were processing.
Beautiful. Breathtaking. Overwhelming.
One bend revealing the tranquility of Cook's Inlet. The next, lush green of evergreen trees. The next, mountains standing at attention, like centuria protecting their charge.
But one particular scene keeps surfacing in my memory.
Among the emotions evoked in other scenes, emotions like awe, joy, exhilaration, this scene evokes the emotions of confusion and, well, pissed-off. (Sorry, Mama and Ma!)
At many of these picturesque settings, park benches were placed, giving the viewer ample opportunity to take in all elements of the beauty presented.
Then there was THIS bench.
At the apex of one curve, the trees opened to give one of those (have I used this term?) BREATH-TAKING vistas of the dancing waters of the inlet, back-dropped by green mountains miles away. And at this bend, near the water, was another bench.
Only this bench didn't face the water.
This bench didn't face monumental mountains.
This bench, in this amazing location, faced some drab, emotionless building apparently housing systems for municipal water or sewage, its only purpose for existence: utility.
I didn't understand!
Why? In this place, this inspiring place, why in the world would a bench be placed in such a manner that your back is to beauty and the only thing you can see is cold utility.
Well, like I said, I haven't been able to shake this feeling and the questions it's placement has brought about.
You may not be like this, but I see great symbolism in almost everything. Sometimes I consider that I must be insane, because of how seemingly inertia, seems to speak such volumes to me and my views of life.
But, here I saw how we humans, so often approach the circumstances and situations, with which we are presented.
Here's what this has meant to me.
As we walk this path, life, and find ourselves at places or in situations, so often we can only see the cold, the drab, the lifelessness that the situations present.
So often we find ourselves stuck on a bench in life and the only thing we can see is the old, dead utility that lies just before our eyes.
So often we see only the drudgery of work.
But this would make sense, right? I mean, the bench on which we're sitting only faces utility, normality or maybe futility.
And, since we play by the rules, we use the bench only in the manner it was designed.
The bench faces drudgery. We only see drudgery.
Better question: why do we think we have to face the direction the bench is telling us to face???
So, I guess what I'm saying is this: when you come to places in your life where on one side the scene is ugly, lifeless; and the other side is limitless beauty and unrestrained life, it all just depends on which way you choose to look.
Where are you?
Are you staring at the definition of meaninglessness?
Maybe, just maybe, we should defy the rules of bench-setters and be the scorn of bench-sitters, and turn the other way.
Maybe, just maybe, we should look for the beauty that is obvious in that same place!
It may not all be as bad as it may be just 180 degrees from where you happen to be...

I love you all, and the cry of my heart is that you all find beauty in life.

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