Distilled to Beauty

Posted by julie on Thursday, 12 January 2017, 5:43

Yesterday, I found out that an author whose work inspires mine is dying of an inoperable brain tumor. While I’ve wondered if my headaches were due to something serious, his migraines have actually been caused by a brain tumor. For the past year, before I write, I’ve been reading a poem or essay of his—any poem or essay—as inspiration. His way of crafting words into moving pictures, of taking an apparently mundane moment and reminding me of its singular value, reminds me how much beauty is possible.

I wish I didn’t feel like cancer had just run ramshackle through last year. Three friends under 50 died of cancer in 2016. The 37-year-old runner. The 43-year-old artist. The 49-year-old dancer. One left a 2-year-old, one two teenagers. I suppose if I had to find the significance in all this—not really the point, but something positive—it would be that I know all three of them distilled their lives to places of beauty and love in their last months. Surrounded by friends, doing only what inspired them, they had figured out the essence of how they wanted to live.

Their lives and deaths are not lessons. As a human, though, struggling to find some meaning, I can find much. I can choose to live differently. I can spread as much love as I can—inviting others over, helping friends and family who are struggling. I can decide to just create—spending time making beautiful things. I can forgive—moving on from perceived past injustices. I can live as much as my friends did—finding and moving with their passions. Eventually, I hope to leave those I love with memories—sharing laughter, kindnesses, moments, saying “yes” to my children.

I can also leave the world more beautiful than I found it. In this time of political furor, it’s going to take a whole hell of a lot of beauty to overcome the ugliness that’s on the horizon. So, every day, I really have no choice but to do the small things. I must do the work. For my friends, for family, for myself, I must help to create something beautiful.

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