The struggle and the beauty

“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”
– Sigmund Freud

Many thanks to Anthony Lawlor, from whom I found this quote on Twitter. I do believe this to be true, absolutely, though it’s so incredibly difficult to remember in the moments where the struggle seems overwhelming. The struggle which occurs for me on so many levels these days. The struggle to stop my crazy squirrel brain from frantically spinning over and over on the same questions. The struggle to remain patient and present with my lovely children who can be charming, curious, and incredibly aggravating. The struggle not to over-identify with Grace, to maintain the distance and perspective I need to parent her well. The struggle not to crush Whit’s effervescent spirit, whose enthusiastic bubbles sometimes challenge the rules and norms. The struggle to try to keep alive my professional and creative selves, as well as to have enough left over for those who need me.

“These are the day of miracle and wonder”
– Paul Simon

For some reason that lyric was in my head nonstop this weekend. My subconscious was trying to remind me of the richness of the present moment, I suspect, which can be so hard to really see.

It was a weekend with plenty of struggle as well as ample beauty. Somehow the struggle is so quick to occlude the beauty, so much more urgent and immediate, so hard to shake off. Does this make sense? It is here, on the page, and through the lens of my camera that I am more able to see the beauty. It rises more slowly, over time, asserting itself in memory rather than in the vivid moment. The beauty is in the smallest moments, infinity opening, surprising me every time, from the most infinitessimal things, like a world in the back of a wardrobe (there really are only two or three human stories, and we do go on telling them, no?). Why is it, then, that the struggles, also often small, can so quickly and utterly yank me back to the morass of misery and frustration, away from the wonders that are revealed in the flashing moments of beauty?

I wish I could change the dynamic between these two, but the beauty, fragile as it is in the moment, seems sturdier over the long arc of a life. Freud’s quote supports this, the notion that the beauty develops over time, like a print sitting in the solution for a long time, image gradually forming on the slick surface of the photo paper, slowly, haltingly hovering into being. It is, of course, the photograph that is the enduring artifact of the experience.


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8 Comments

  1. Christa
    Posted July 26, 2010 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    Yes.

  2. Posted July 26, 2010 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    “the beauty fragile as it is in the moment, seems sturdier over the long arc of a life”

    love this, and the developing photograph metaphor

    from this place, we have permission to let go of our desire to grasp – relaxing into the knowledge that the beauty will bloom regardless

    such freedom in that

  3. Posted July 26, 2010 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Can’t tell you how right that Freud quote sounds to me today. Thank you for posting it. It will be my mantra.

  4. Posted July 26, 2010 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Beautiful post. Perhaps the poignant beauty of our struggles is that they are mostly self-created. Maybe, unconsciously, we use them to wrestle with the mystery of navigating this strange and wonderful world. Through struggle we help ourselves discover who we really are behind our carefully constructed masks

  5. Posted July 26, 2010 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    This was such a good read for this morning (or afternoon… yikes…)
    The hardest part is realizing how easily (like you said) you can snap from a beautiful moment into frustration. And then the reverse is always a challenge. It’s unfortunate that the choice to be happy and to be present (not one in the same, of course) takes such effort. But the old saying is true, something about nothing good has ever been easy…

  6. Posted July 26, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Lovely.

  7. Posted July 27, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Freud said that?! A spectacular quote, as is the Paul Simon one (love him!) and every one of your points in between. Beauty developing over time, and us, learning the patience and vision, to see it.

  8. Posted July 28, 2010 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Wow. And I thought Freud was a bit of a kook. I love that quote.