The Most Beautiful Thing in the World
In the past I’ve done a lot of things I’m ashamed of. I’ve treated some people very badly, some not so long ago. I’ve made decisions that have hurt others, sometimes consciously, but more often because they cared about something I didn’t.
Now I am seeing my mistakes echoed in the life of someone close. For her the pain is real, it is now, it is everything; and whenever I talk to her about it, I can’t help but feeling the empathy rise to confront me. When I took advantage or acted without consideration and compassion in my past it caused this same pain in others. It’s something I still ask forgiveness for.
But seeking forgiveness implies a distance, or at least an end. Can I ask forgiveness for something I still find myself doing. Can I pull myself away from who I am and ask forgiveness as if I am already the person I want to be? Perhaps the answer is yes, and in doing so I take a step toward changing, or perhaps the answer is no, the seeking of forgiveness without change is a fallacy and imitation of repentance. I’ve thought on it a lot recently, and it led me to a decision.
What kind of person am I to spend my time pondering the value of my own inaction when there is someone close to me who is suffering from that same type of disconnection. What kind of friend offers nothing but the occasional kind word when there is someone in honest need. So for that, I ask more forgiveness and seek to change. Perhaps I’ll wonder about the merits of this little circular path later.
For now I want to address and offer what little insight I can as an antagonist to so many. Maybe she’ll find something in this to be of real value, and if not, maybe one of the other few who read this will. If nothing else, let me make an honest try at being the person I want to be instead of philosophizing.
I’ve been blessed to be loved by a few wonderful people. Some of these are still in my life in some positive way, and I hope I have a similar role in theirs, but there are others whom I have cut out, or who have cut out me with great effect. In this group who has gone off in different directions there are a few who cared for me so much, that when I, in my indifference, acted without regard to that feeling, I did more than bruise. Still others–and these are my true shame–I hurt in this fashion on purpose, knowing that their feelings would make the sting that much more powerful.
In all of this I was wrong. I acted horribly and hurt people sometimes just to see them hurt. All of that pain was my fault. It wasn’t the people who loved me who are to blame, but it is they who suffered. I need to make that point perfectly clear. I can’t claim ignorance in any case, even those caused by indifference. I am responsible.
And so, for you reading, it’s not your fault.
The world is full of people who will take advantage of us in our most vulnerable moments. These people, like me, will hopefully find the opportunity to see their errors and work to change. In the meantime, though, all of us should seek to find the strength in ourselves to turn away from these actions and seek out people with the respect to treat us as we are. Though we may love and want someone with all our heart and all our being and all the force we can muster, when we are not respected and treated with love we absolutely must take a stand. Stop that very moment and say to the person, say to me, “You treat me like I’m not human, not worthy of your love.” And there, in that moment, look into their eyes and see if you see it. Is the love there and overlooked, or is it something else. Is it power to be used.
When I was young, I was trusting and was hurt too. We all go through something similar, but its in the way we handle these situations that proves to us who we really are. I was a person scared to be without power, and so I took on the same role as the person who hurt me. It has been one of the harder things about myself that I’ve had to face so far in my meditations.
Our lives are made up of moments like these where we can suddenly find ourselves being cruel and jaded, weak and dependent, prideful and full of vengeance, or perhaps even strong and noble. Sometimes we fall down. Sometimes we stand up.
There’s a beauty though, just beneath the surface of things. It is a beauty of their being that has nothing to do with action or power or even love. It is a beauty of existence and relationship that can be likened to the fearful beauty we feel when we consider the implausibility of our own existence, the unlikelihood of being here with each other.
It’s the type of stillness of being that is so beautiful that it makes a kitchen sink seem filled with such wonder that it takes on the metaphoric mist of heaven. It makes a flower seem more than a collection of petals and stem. It makes a man or woman who treats us badly as an unfortunate soul who just doesn’t see it all. It makes us fall to our knees as we are overcome with all of it. The stillness is everything. The silence is awe.
In those times when things in my life seem so dark that they become poems with sinister rhyming couplets, and the songs on the radio have all subscribed to the news-feeds of my life, that’s the time when I force myself to look at it. That’s when I look past all of the endless painful situations I have caused and that I have faced because of others and all I see is the infinite improbability of creation unraveling in such pristine, perfect spirals of chance and being, all roads of fate and time across the universe converging their energies on a cosmic scale. And there, in the midst of all of this fantastic beauty is the most beautiful thing in the world. You.
: //www.flickr.com/photos/tomasino/126480111/ “Summer’s Home”