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.

This was originally posted exactly 2 years ago, and it’s still all true.  Today I am dropping Grace off at sleep away camp, at the camp I went to for 10 years, with the daughter of my best friend from camp.  I miss her already, and she’s not even gone yet.  It will surely be a day full of both struggle and beauty.

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  1. Robert
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 4:29 am | Permalink

    I’m listening to Paul Simon at the same time
    as I am reading your blog.

  2. Posted July 26, 2012 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    Beautiful as always! I’ll be thinking of you both today…

  3. Posted July 26, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Good luck with the drop off!!! So mixed, I know!

  4. Posted July 26, 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I identify with every word. That the struggle so often occludes the beauty, that there are only two or three human stories, that it is so challenging to stay present and to simply abide.

    Enjoy your time with Whit just as Grace enjoys her independence. Remember it’s OK to enjoy:) Her return will be cause for celebration!! xoxo

  5. Posted July 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    One of my favorite quotations is “Beauty must be broken daily to remain beautiful.” It’s Virginia Woolf, from The Waves.
    A lovely post, full of questions that make me think.