Are you free
because you have nothing left to take
and nowhere more to fall,
or because you have it all
and would put everything at stake?
The speed boat motor was making a racketing sound. The wind pushed back my hair as we were racing down the river. The sound was deafening, my vision blurred. The green and brown tones of the Guatemalan jungle were smeared across the palette of the blue sky, losing all shape and form. Finally, we stopped. We remained quiet so that all human sounds went away, letting the wilderness come creeping in. The birds were singing in the trees, but that wasn’t all. There was also the sound of rustling breeze in the mangrove trees, of the waves lazily rolling to the river banks, and of the animal cries coming from afar, muffled by the ferns and vines that made the jungle look like a thick deep green velvet curtain. I noticed dozens of tiny black birds on long legs standing on lily pads that were scattered around and gently swaying on the water. The birds seemed to be completely weightless. They walked upon the leaves as if walking on air. Somewhere right between them, a boy was floating in his small canoe made out of dark light wood. Handmade, obviously, but not made by just any hands. Carefully carved out of a log by the hands of this five-year-old Mayan child with big round eyes and dirt on his brown skin. Made to take him away from his home, even though ‘away’ meant just down the river and into a new river branch. But even this small away was good enough for him. It meant seeing the world outside that small hut I could see in the background, made of wood and dirt, hanging in the trees above the water, holding on to the branches, lingering over the jungle. The boy admired our big shiny canoe, his eyes refusing even to blink. But then this curious machine flew away like lightening, and the boy’s world was, once again, filled with calmness and free of strangers. We were rushing to see another world.
Our speed boat stopped on a small peer of a town called Livingston, sitting on the beaches of the Caribbean Sea. There were no Mayas here. Every person who kindly greeted us on the steps of their home had skin as brown as the trees we passed in the jungle. It was almost like a lost puzzle piece that made its way into the wrong box – the picture was completely different. The world was completely different. Livingston was a town cut from the rest of the world, so they told us. Besides the river, no other road led to it. Still, there were people driving cars from on part to the other of this extremely tiny town that could easily be walked in a matter of minutes. I couldn’t completely understand why, but they seemed to be enjoying the ride. The heat was pressing down on us as we passed a cemetery. I was tired and hot and I had absolutely no desire of watching tombstones. I almost wanted to go back, but then we walked down the road, turned around a corner, and I could see why I was there. The sight took my breath away. The sparkling light blue see was licking the yellow sand on one side, and stretching out to infinity on the other. You almost couldn’t tell where the water ended and the sky started. We sat in the shade of the palm trees for the rest of the day, and the people of Livingston danced for us in the rhythm of the drums, until the big orange sun heavily dipped down into the waves of the Caribbean, reminding us that this should only be a visit. We had our own world to go back to.
“You’re nothing but a big fat exploding ball!” Earth screamed. “I don’t know why I ever loved you. All you did was cause me pain.”
“I never meant to,” Sun said softly.
“Liar!” Earth turned away, hiding her face and the tears that were about to come running down her cheeks. “You like it. You like keeping me on a string, you like watching how I hang on …”
“I don’t …” Sun tried.
“Of course you do. You like when things are yours, when you can possess them. That’s just the way you’ve always been.”
“I don’t think you are being fair. I liked you. That was all.”
“No, you didn’t like me. You liked me circling around you.” Now she turned back. She was angry. Sad. Disappointed. “You always have to be in the center of attention, don’t you?”
Sun remained quiet. He didn’t know what to say.
“It’s not just me. It’s the same with everybody in your life. You never let us get away from you, but you never commit to any of us. You’re a coward.”
“I’m not keeping you. You can leave any time you wait. I won’t stop you,” Sun said with spite in his voice.
“I will leave! I can find somebody new in an instant. Somebody better. I don’t need you!” Earth was screaming.
“Just go!” Sun’s voice was filled with sadness.
“You’re selfish. You take, but you never give. I don’t know why I stuck around this long.” Earth hung her head.
“I’m sorry, but I will never live up to your expectations,” Sun sighed.
Earth turned her back on Sun once more. It wasn’t the first time, and they both knew it surely wasn’t the last.
“There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.”
― Edgar Allan Poe
Beauty is an elusive concept. So very subjective and relative. So incredibly hard to define. But there may be one common feature to everything that has ever been considered beautiful. Beauty is not perfect.
Beauty does not glitter, shine and shimmer. It is not flamboyant, big and bold. Beauty does not brag. It hides in the smallest things – in the dew drops on a rose petal, in the way the sun shines on the lake waves, in the sound of laughter. Beauty can be found in a torn down building covered with ivy, in confused children’s games, and the most asymmetrical of art. Beautiful are the tears cried for somebody else’s pain, the sad songs, and the goodbyes of loved ones. Ice and fire are beautiful, even though they both take lives. And the night has beauty, even though it is black and cold and quiet. Beautiful are also the people who are flawed, but have big hearts, and make their way through their own mistakes and laugh while they do so. There is even beauty in death – in its stillness and the promise of another birth.
Nothing that is true is ever ugly. Everything that beats with life has beauty inside. But life is not eternal. It grows, expands, and then dies – and beauty dies with it. Maybe that is the big imperfection of beauty, the flaw that makes all beauty beautiful – temporariness. Beauty is admired because it can never be caught, never truly possessed. One day, it will all slip away, disappear, transform; and we will have to start looking for it someplace else.
I like people who laugh – a lot and from the heart. I like people when they talk about something that excites them and a spark lights up in their eyes. I like people who are creative, who recognize and appreciate art, and who love to invent new things. I like people who remain children by heart, who fool around and still know how to play. I like people who sing along to the songs they hear on the radio, or start dancing randomly just because they feel like it. I like people with taste. I like people who have the habit of looking you straight in the eyes, and those who actually hear, not just listen. I like those who are honest, genuine and true. I like people who speak their mind, people who are level headed, and people who are good-hearted. I like happy, smart and funny people, who are confident and relaxed. I like people who are open and kind, people who know how to care. I like people whose lives are filled with love and who are brave enough to follow their dreams. I like people who live in the moment, who don’t give in to rules, limitations, or public opinion. I like people who do it their way. I like colorful people, those who shine and bright up the room. I like people with an appetite for life. I like people with energy. And I love people who are human, flawed and imperfect, people who are a bit silly, goofy and special – those are my favorite kind of people.
Beginnings are hard. And scary. You have to step outside your comfort zone into an uncharted territory where just anything might happen.
Once, everything was a beginning, and it did not seem hard at all. Each day meant something new. We had to make our first steps, pronounce our first words. We went to school, made friends, and fell in love – all for the first time. We met new people and learned new things, and there were so many beginnings that they did not even seem scary anymore.
But then, we grew up. And got scared. There were fewer and fewer beginnings. The days just came and went, never bringing anything new with them. We did everything we had to. We tried it all. All the starts, the awkward first steps, the falls, and the fails – all of that was long behind us. The world had nothing new left to show us. But the saddest part was, that we did not even want to start something new. We were afraid it would throw us out of our balance, that we would embarrass ourselves. We were scared to death of not succeeding.
At one point, we would ask ourselves, “When was the last time I did something for the first time?” Unfortunately, we would not know the answer. The only thing we would know is that we became old and boring. No more beginnings. Only endings.
Beginnings are hard, sure. A blank page is staring right at you. You can write whatever your heart desires. If you do it wrong, you will have failed before you even started. But, if you do it right, everything will just fall into place. Sometimes, when you go out there, when you throw yourself into a new beginning, when you have no idea of what to expect – it is best just to close your eyes, and jump, and hope for the best …