Negative talk is everywhere we turn.
It’s on television and in the news. We hear it from our president’s mouth. It’s on Facebook. There are fires to put out, connections to make, and lies to unravel. Fingers continue to point to evil, unadulterated greed, and lust.
Crime. Drugs. War. Pollution. Collusion. Nasty remarks. Mean-spirited political crossfire and shady dealings.
Everywhere we look, the world is a drab and cheerless gray. Racism, hatred, and hypocrisy are on display—and of course, we can’t ignore it. It won’t just go away.
It’s difficult to find the good stuff amid the precarious piles of rubbish we must wade through just to get to the breakfast table each morning. The disparity between those who have and those who have not will forever remain. A thirst for blood is the wayward plight of the human race. The landscape of our lives is cluttered with the wreckage we gather from broken promises, illicit favors, incurable illness, abject poverty, and ulterior motives.
What the heck can we do?
We can sift through the piles for glimmers of hope—things shiny and free to hold. Because if we must digest the bitter, can we not also enjoy what is sweet and soul-satisfying? In order to survive this world, it is essential to observe and savor a leveling balance in our lives.
I covet raw beauty—the organic beauty that comes to light without filters or provocation in this jaded, dirty world. It is there for me to find, as long as I remember to look.
When I see it (which is often), I allow it to drench my tired, suspicious soul. I fall into bed at night saturated with the goodness that this world has always offered me.
Yesterday, I saw a young woman with a hot pink scarf tied around her bald head. She was fighting illness and despondency, but she still sent a radiant smile in my direction as she pushed her cart of assorted groceries. She sauntered along slowly, with her Chai tea, her mint cookies, her ramen noodles, and her halibut. She smiled a grateful smile and lit up the aisle with her essence, spirit, and steadfast will. I saw that her raw beauty, despite her obstacles, was real and present.
An overweight man, huffing and puffing down at the track—giving it his all, doing the “the healthy thing”—managed a raised, pumping fist in my direction as we passed, in a show of solidarity. We share the same battle, the ongoing battle, to love ourselves enough to take care of ourselves. Like me, he is just a person fighting the good fight with fist–clenching determination. I saw his raw beauty beneath the surface of his struggle.
I witnessed love deep in the eyes of my dog. He stared at me for a long time, and he waited patiently for me to look back at him. He put his head in my lap and told me—with his eyes and twitching brows—everything he wanted me to know: I love you. Yes, I do. I love you deeply. I witnessed raw beauty, solid and true, in the loyalty of my furry, little, pain-in-the-ass friend.
And this past weekend, the wind howled his name—first through my hair and then across my face. It asked: Do you remember me? Your daddy—your daddy in heaven? I am watching you on this wind-whipping day—how cold it is! Freezing—an absolutely perfect temperature, I’d say, for something like ice fishing, don’t you think? I wrapped myself up in the raw beauty of vivid memories of my father, as they came flooding to the surface on a cold, winter day.
My husband’s arms—wrapped around me as I stood at the sink this morning—showed his friendship, his care for me. Through it all—all of my bullsh*t—he still brings me toast and coffee. His love is an unselfish love that goes above and beyond. I recognized the raw beauty in the tender love of a man who hasn’t changed his mind about loving me.
I saw raw beauty one night by chance, when an old woman with crepe-paper hands heard a Beatles song, and she hopped up to dance. I watched her beauty raging, seeping from every pore of her youthfully vibrant, still-standing ways.
And it was also present last week, in the three-year-old girl who showed me how to hold a pencil. She was crying, kicking, and missing her mama—so I sat her in my lap, and she showed me how she could write the first letter of her name, J, before a tear-soaked smile emerged from her sad, missing-mama face. Just a little child, having a little moment—a moment of faith inside her confusion. I held her raw beauty—her innocent trust—while she drew smiley faces with giant “O” eyes and long, squiggly mouths.
I saw it as I cruised by the farm—“my” farm—nestled in the valley. It was neat, square, and railed-in, with small, puffy, winter-coated animals making their way around. I saw green surfacing in the distant hills ahead. There were birds chirping, cars passing, and me—alone, feet pounding, soaking it up, all of it—with healthy legs and lungs, going the distance. I inhaled the raw beauty of my own conquered fears inside what can only be described as a bucolic postcard.
Raw beauty feeds my hungry soul amid the chaos and corruption championed by those who seek power.
I try to hold them—the fleeting, raw, beautiful moments—before they pass, before they fade to nothing. They are small moments, yes, but they matter. Seeking beauty in this dirty world is about savoring love, resistance, strength, innocence, memories, loyalty, and our own, personal journeys.
These moments can be as strikingly profound as watching an old woman jump up from her seat to rock out to “A Hard Day’s Night.”
Author: Kimberly Valzania
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina