The Absurd and Amazing Adventures of Cafe Girl: Beauty

April 18, 2009


This image keeps coming back to me. I'm not sure if this is something I came up with, or something I read in a book or saw in a movie. Whatever it is, this is what has been spinning in my head these days.

There's a little girl, maybe four or five. It is summer. She is outside in a yellow sundress. She looks around her, taking in the green of the grass, the blue of the sky, the white of the clouds, the brown of the trees, the pink of the flowers. She notices the butterflies, the birds. She absorbs this all with a sense of wonder. Then, she starts to cry.

Her mother comes up to her, concerned. She kneels down, puts her arms around the little girl and asks her, ever so tenderly, what's wrong, why is she crying.

The little girl looks into her mother's eyes. Her own eyes are large and full of tears. In between sobs she says, "It's so beautiful, Mommy and I'm sad because you can't see what I see."

It's so beautiful that it makes me sad you can't see what I see.

These days, I feel like that little girl. There's this beauty I can see, that I know is there, that is so apparent, so crystal clear. Yet, it is beauty so intricate, so complicated, so nuanced. I see it, and I want others to see it. So I search for ways to show it to the world around me. I wish I could paint, and yet, the palette of colors that exist don't even begin to mimic what I see with my eyes. I try to write, but my grasp of language seems pedestrian when I try to describe this almost unspeakable beauty.

Look, look, I want to cry out. Just look. Don't you see? Don't you see what I see?

And the answer to that, sadly, is no. You don't see what I see. Not because you don't want to, but simply because you are not me. What I see has been shaped by my past, my experiences, my beliefs. Some of those you share, many of those you do not. The beauty I see, the beauty I exprience, the beauty I know to exist belongs to me. And as desperate as I am to share this, as much as it breaks my heart that you can't see what I see, know what I know, it's a loss that I'm going to have to accept as part of the human experience. For as much as our uniqueness and individuality makes us lively and vibrant as a people, it is also what drives our loneliness.

Our desire for togetherness may be overwhelming, but together will always be something that we consistently have to work at, consistently have to strive towards. Our instinct, rightly or wrongly, will always be to be separate, to be one apart from the other.

Oddly, somewhere in the back of my mind, I'm hanging on to a small sliver of hope. Hope that one day, we will come together at some crossroads and we will come upon beauty. And in some sort of crazy, magical moment, you and I will see exactly the same thing. It'll be a moment so brief that we will always wonder if we imagined it.

But for that brief, fleeting moment, we would know we shared a moment of beauty. And that, in and of itself, would be the most beautiful thing of all.

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