Time to dust off the cobwebs, methinks. It’s been a year since I tried to do any casual writing; I finished my A-levels, did some work experience, made a last minute decision to subject myself to uni. I met friends, I did things I never thought I would and actually enjoyed them, I fell in love, I gained respect and for the first time in a decade, I actually felt close to how I did as a child. Free, and happy. I’m not going to write about my adventures here – I have a plot worked out, and I’m formulating a book as you read this. It may never even get finished, but promising the three or four people that sit down and read this drivel will hopefully inspire me to power through. So what am I going to talk about? Right now, I want to talk about beauty.
Yesterday I was sat on the beach with two clients – individuals with learning difficulties – and watched the sea turn from sapphire blue to a thick, inky grey. The sun filtered through the clouds like the heavens were leaking into reality, depositing a blinding film of shimmering gold across the waves. I sat and watched, in awe, nodding at the nothingness that poured from my companions’ lips as the storm clouds drew closer. The sky over the town in the distance and the island on the horizon was a dusky orange that quite honestly made breathing difficult from the excitement. Minutes passed on, and although the storm did not follow, my feelings did.
That’s the thing I’ve realised about beauty and love. It’s so easy to lose yourself in it, to crave more, to wish that it will never pass you by. I craved the companionship of this woman for a full year, but by the time we left for the summer, I didn’t really want to see her face or hear her voice again. The closer I got, and the longer I looked at her soul, the more disappointed I felt. She, like all the others, is merely human. She will grow old, she will decay, and she will die. I guess this is where I should tell you, dear reader, that this is perfectly normal and the ageing process, the loss of beauty, is in itself a beautiful thing. But I won’t.
One of my favourite quotes comes from the videogame League of Legends, and a character that represents Death:
“Beauty fades. That is why it is beautiful.”
There is only one way to view this quote, and it is objectively true. As things become more familiar, they become less interesting. A lack of change may be reassuring, but it doesn’t provide any kind of fulfilment, nor that burning in your chest and the tear in your eye at the discovery of something truly magnificent. However, I can think of two ways to act upon this quote:
1) you accept that things will never be as beautiful as the first time experiencing them. The girl you fell in love with will die much faster than she will, and you’ll be left with the thing that once animated the body you loved. It’s sad, but you remember the good times and swallow your disappointment, because somewhere deep down you know that it’s the right thing to do.
2) you move on to the next big thing. You’ve seen a thousand sunrises, so you go and find waterfalls, because if you keep moving, never stop, you will never stagnate and neither will the things you follow. This works with people too; yet it’s important to realise that you will also fade and decay. There will come a point when the people you love fail to love you back – you have lost your beauty. Neither option sounds particularly satisfying, but this is life.
I and many others, I’m sure, treasure beauty so dearly. It sparks imagination and passion, love and resilience. Placing too much faith in it, however, will kill you. Promises and hopes of perfection ultimately lead to disappointment; you will become jaded and full of hate, feeling cheated and imagining you’re the butt of Life’s very sadistic joke. And that’s okay.
Humanity searches for answers in any way they can. They feel abandoned and alone, and the things that make them hope, that make them feel, are so ruthlessly taken before their very eyes – be it youth, affection or excitement. To keep going is foolish, and I love it. I love the bitter tears and bloody fingernails as they scratch at the dust of their lives because it’s a struggle that each and every person feels, deep down inside.
Impermanence is a curse – that doesn’t mean you should stop appreciating all the beauty in your world before it is taken from you. Embrace everything. Love everything.
“Those who run from death stood still in life.”
Experience all the beauty you can and when your time comes, you won’t feel cheated. The things you loved no longer interest, and you are ready for what comes next.