One of the most tangible memories I have as a child was of my brother, mother and me fleeing for our lives from my father. It seemed even while on vacation we were not given a reprieve from the instability that was the crux of my childhood. As memories go, it is one that still has texture and sound. I can hear my mother screaming for us to get into the car. I can hear my father beating his fist hard on the hood as the motor struggled to turn over. I remember the way I trembled. I remember the fear in my mother’s eyes. I remember the profound silence that permeated the chaos of the moment. More than anything, I can still taste the powerlessness.
As the miles separating us from my father’s alcoholic rage increased, I tried to breathe. But I learned early that it was wise only to release small breathes, because soon enough I might be required to once again hold my breath. But there was relief; small but sure. Until my mother turned the car around. And I realized in that instant it was not safe to relax, as we were heading back into the unpredictable storm.
Although this is far from my worst memory. It is a stone imbedded into the foundation that sits at the base of who I am. Held in by years of mortar, this stone would take an army to dislodge. However, I have no intention of doing so, as its not necessary. This one painful piece of foundation carries a purpose. That incident, among many, taught me the delicate-finger hold mankind has on sanity. The frailty that is revealed, the frailty that is hidden.
Although as a child I was powerlessness, as an adult I am not. I look back proudly at my tumultuous past. Because all of those moments created within me a person who would rather wrestle dragons than run from them. My foundation, although painful, is strong. Perhaps something beyond me knew I would require such a footing, and thus it was given to me. Either way, I have it now.
The things that matter to me, differ greatly from many of the things that matter to others. Things that I think little of revealing, often make others cringe due their raw, seemingly vulnerable nature. And yet, to me, these things are neither raw nor vulnerable. They are truths. And truths regardless of their ugliness or concealed sacredness, are strengthened by our acknowledgement of them. More so, we are strengthened by our acknowledgment of them. And by doing such, these markers, stones from our past, take on their own profound beauty. Beauty isn’t always created by the lovely things in life. Beauty can be found through the shades of strength required to survive. Beauty is as much that which is pretty as that which is profound. And through that knowing, I think little of sharing my beauty, as painful as it may be, with you. As I know, it helps you to see the beauty within the part of you that you may view as raw and vulnerable.
There are many kinds of beauty to be seen in this world, if we know where to look. I think its best not to turn our eye only onto those things that are glossy and picturesque. Instead, see beauty in a leaf that has turned its last shade of deep amber before falling to the ground. See it in the eyes of a child who’s waiting nervously to hear that they did well. See it within the most blustery day, and coldest night. Most of all see it when you look at the most frail amongst us, because hidden within them, is someone who has not yet discovered their beauty.
Listening to Spinnerette – Baptized By Fire