Today marks a milestone – my 100th post! And although I’ve screeds still to write, I thought I’d take a moment to celebrate this by celebrating that which inspires and sustains me. Which would be truth and beauty. Since that is love…
As a child, growing up beneath the mighty Drakensberg, I found a simple song that I adopted as an anthem: my credo. I used to belt it out when I was happy and hum it, quietly, a talisman of strength, if I felt frightened, or sad. I’ve a clear memory of presiding over the burial of my cat, Cherish, at the bottom of the garden, singing softly as my mother and I covered her over with dirt and planted a tree, to remember. Brave and Strong and True’s final verse goes (reads? sings?)
In the evening of my life I shall look to the sunset,
At a moment in my life when the night is due.
And the question I shall ask only I can answer.
Was I brave and strong and true?
Did I fill the world with love my whole life through?
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about beauty and what it is we consider beautiful (and why) in strangers, lovers, family members, ourselves and the world around us. Seems to me, it’s an ephemeral quality which cannot be quantified except for this: you know it when you see it. It resonates somewhere deep in your core. Same goes for truth. Which is probably why they integrate so seamlessly, are intimately, inseparably entwined: like two atoms in a molecule.
Much of what is good about any art form is it’s simply beauty and truth. As people, we’re inspired, moved and sustained by these – when we create from a place of truth, beauty is revealed. When we recognise beauty, real beauty in something or someone, I believe we see their ‘truth’. As Keats penned in his poem, Ode on a Grecian Urn:
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty” ~ that is all.
Every one of us have some innate beauty – even the darkest, most twisted creatures have, at their essence, a beauty, their unique truth. I believe that’s essentially what we are. Sadly however, people allow their beauty to be perverted, distorted, deformed – they hide behind grotesque masks of fearful loathing and ugliness. But it’s still there, albeit deeply buried, abandoned and forgotten. You can seek it out, call it forth and appreciate it while holding a boundary, the integrity of your truth. The trick is to see the beauty but avoid getting sucked into the deranged nothingness of the ‘disguising’ nightmare.
In my search for truth, I stumbled across this:
based on a poem by ethicist (there exists such a thing?!) Michael Josephson entitled What Will Matter. In it, he asks how will the value of your days be measured? Then eloquently answers:
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built;
not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories,
but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.
What matters to you?