05 January, 2017

Beauty is a monster, but it's still worth the search

Let the beauty you seek be what you do. -Rumi

Left to my own devices, I am a baboon wandering the wilderness. I would rather be either 1) at my desk writing or 2) on a barstool drinking than engaged in any other activity.  These two truths about me have been constant for roughly 20 years. I don't expect either of those things to change any time soon.  Both of those predilections have led me have both a ceaseless need to wander and a deep-rooted desire for love and stability. If all of these things seem to be contradictions, then you are correct. This is nothing more than a condensed explanation of the human condition. In spite of our desire to be utterly, drudgingly consistent through and through, human beings are driven by natural and contradictory needs.

A man who does not recognize he is beast with a thin veneer of manufactured civility is lying to himself. I've come around to the idea over the last few years that even admitting this falls short of enough. It's not enough to simply identify the beast. If the focus of a life is to embrace beauty, to seek enlightenment, to live as one with a higher ethic and moral conscious -- indeed, to eventually return to God -- a man has to, to a certain degree, accept and embrace the beast. If we accept Keats' poetic dictum: Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty'*, we must also accept that beauty is not always a comforting or comfortable thing. Beauty can be terrifying.

The weight on the other end of the fulcrum are my obligations -- to those I love, to those who love me, and to that short list of people whose opinions matter.

Lately I've been writing about the Grand Experiment -- my attempt to both hold down a job and pursue Beauty.  Like every other round of the Grand Experiment, this last round ended in failure. I allowed myself to get absorbed into the work I was doing, scribbling along the way, but ultimately I was chasing something other beauty, other than art. Something other. When this happens, the beast that is me gets surly. My temper -- which I have managed to meticulously starve and bury in the back of my psyche -- starts to taste the air.

I've decided to stop trying to restrain my temper as much as work it like hot steel. It's not so much that I want to fly off the handle, but I want to stop feeling guilty because I sometimes do. Anger, like any other emotion, can have justified roots. Anger, like any other impulse, will be misused and abused if I don't get used to it.





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* "Ode to a Grecian Urn"
 
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