I’m so out of practice with this writing thing. I haven’t been noticing the moments that spur me on to write of something meaningful. I needed to get hit over the head with inspiration and that happened last night. I was overwhelmed with the wealth of beauty spilling all over the place at the Over the Rhine concert. It felt wasteful to me, extravagant. If I had been there when Mary anointed Jesus with expensive oil, I probably would have been anxious about her extravagance. I would have been chastised in that story because I think goodness and beauty is in short supply and caution takes hold of me, telling me to take care and absorb what I can. But there isn’t always a next time. Sometimes, you just have to absorb what you can with open hands, not clenched fists.
So last night at the show, I tried but I couldn’t take it all in. I couldn’t chew on every lyric and note the way I felt they deserved. I could only let them wash over me and every once in a while get pierced by something true. Something like, “Love: let it be not just a feeling, but the broken beauty of what we choose to do" (from "All Over Ohio"). Or: “When you find your little dream, cost you everything...” (from "Earthbound Love Song"). Separating the lyrics from the whole of the songs they’re a part of doesn’t feel right, but those are the remnants that are still rattling around in me today.
I felt that sense of wasting beauty in Seattle a couple of weeks ago, too. Frustrated by the inability of my eyes to drink up all that beauty, and at my camera’s shortcomings in capturing the layers of water, mountains, trees, and sky. I wanted to take it with me. But we can’t take it with us. The beauty is in the seeing. Not in the taking.
When I have a deep conversation with someone, I feel the same pressure to somehow capture in my soul all that was said, and more importantly, felt. The feeling of connecting to something beautiful is so fleeting that even as I witness it before my eyes, I am grieving the inevitable loss of it. That might sound pathetic and sad, but so far in my life, my experiences of joy untempered by any kind of grief or sadness are not the kinds of deep joy that last. And so, when I feel sadness at the beauty of a sunset from West Seattle or ache at the expression of a lyric, I know it’s really good. It’s so good that it’s worth grieving the loss of it.