I was at the movies yesterday, and a preview for some space-oriented feature came up. Ah, once again, scary machines in the vastness of space, people quixotically dressed in old-fashioned robes while possessing futuristic technology. I whispered to my friend, "Why does Hollywood always portray space as some scary ancient Rome? Why can't it be beautiful?"
This simple question is something I've been thinking a lot about in the last few days. As I watched the terrible, gruesome news about the Charlie Hebdo murders in France and then the hours-long search and killing of the perpetrators - a fascination my sister says is akin to "tragedy porn" - I could feel a darkness creep in. It's that feeling that this world is everything you feared it to be, that it's all "going down the tubes," and that we're all powerless to stop it...
A bit of advice - if you see this emotional wave coming either a) run like hell or b) get out the surfboard. Whatever you do, the important thing is to stay above water!
My brain, in a desperate search for dry land, started to play with this idea. Why can't it all be beautiful? Why can't life, in all it's ups and downs, simply be gorgeous?
When I was a kid, really young, say 4 or 5, I would look in the bathroom mirror in absolute awe at what was staring back at me. I'm alive, I'd squeal to myself! I did it! Oh my Gosh! Look at this face! This hair! You'd think I just landed from some alien planet, masquerading as one of the humans!
It was such a strong feeling of awareness. I knew somehow that this life was a fleeting moment. That it was a gift to experience it. That somewhere, at some moment in the past, I had imagined what it would be like to be alive, to live in this place, to feel these emotions, to touch these things. And the fact that I had accomplished it? It was too much. I was overcome.
So, in honor of the Buddha, who teaches us that there's no more important moment than the present moment, I see the world in all its beauty. Just now, as it is, as it's always been, as it always will be.
And when that feeling of dread or unhappiness or hopelessness rears its ugly head, I will remember that it does not have to be this way. That we always face a choice, and instead of falling into this trap, I lift myself up by suggesting maybe...just maybe...it's beautiful instead.