the most beautiful thing: ugly
Sometimes beauty can only be seen fully from the place it left behind. The vantage point of ugly can offer the very best sight line for the beautiful that has passed. It’s the classic “don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” adage. Well, here it is and there it sits over there, beauty, inching farther away.
It comes in waves, like a violent sickness retching poison out of the stomach and vacating the full but should-be-empty places. It comes in gnashing vehemence and with little warning. The beauty leaves. And in its place, ugly, down-trodden, hopeless and forlorn watches it walk away.
Sometimes I wonder which is the more painful hold out; is it the bracing against beauty’s leaving that creates more knotting in the muscles, more creases in the skin, more stomach-gripping anticipation? Or is it beauty’s return? Beauty brings with it hope and sweetness and simplicity, a sparkling sort of breath and heat, movement and ease. In that ease, we forget. Intoxicated by beauty, we forget. Even after a hundred, a thousand time of dancing from beauty to ugly and back again, it is so hard to remember just how quickly and achingly ugly swallows – a big gulping ingestion that steals what I think was sanity. But was it?
Is the ugly not the truer state? Is the ugly not the most clear-sighted, keen surveyor? At the bottom of ugly, there is nothing left to be lost but life. And so, perhaps, the worse of the hold outs happens while sitting in the ugly and waiting for the shimmering, glimmering beauty to descend, or a-light, or surround – to coat us in the soft pink sheen of ignorance of just how bad it will get again… when the stomach wrenches, when the hope dashes, when the sky falls as it always does. From ugly, we can see beauty more clearly for the sinister tricking wrath it is and hold one of few hopes in ugly’s reach: that the beauty does not return too quickly, too wholly as to erase so much learned before it. That beauty does not return too quickly, too wholly as to give us something far too silly as the kind of hope that whispers promises that it will never never keep, of things we will never never have.
Image source unknown.