I grew up rural. Like real rural. For nearly 400 miles, my hometown of 5k is the biggest city around. Can't drive in, dependent on the limited flights in a day for milk and eggs kind of rural. Like, if a blizzard decided to grace us with its presence for a few days, and I mean -40F with snow blowing winds 20-30 miles per hour, we were in it for the long haul. No flights out, no flights in. Hope you have some cans of carnation milk and some frozen meat in the freezer because the stores would be out of most anything fresh.
And it was beautiful. The colors of the tundra in the fall; red and rusty orange with healthy sprouts of brown and green popping through. The months the sun didn't set. The way the ice turned bluish-white during the Spring whaling season; when going out on the ice was like being on a different planet, a planet full of exquisite beauty. The peaceful dark blue sky, lit only by the moon and stars throughout Christmas. I grew up around such startling and rare beauty that not everyone who came up could even really see it at first. They saw the trash and the pain of our little “city”…much like I felt when I first moved to a real city.
I've been an urbanite for a while now. And, yes, it is a concrete jungle. The houses are very close and there is very little green or wildlife anywhere. Even in DC, which is a more park-friendly city. It's easy to miss the beauty in a city, like it is for some people who aren’t used to the landscape where I come from. Some of the buildings at home are old and decaying with broken windows and snow piling up in the doorways. Some of the buildings in cities are graffitied out and look like they’ve been used to cook meth. At first, I had trouble seeing the light here. I remember living at home, deep in a cycle of re-triggering and trauma, very depressed, feeling the same way about home. I could only see the pain and the trash. I couldn’t see the light.
But, now, almost every morning, I sit on the metro, looking out. I can look out and see so much beauty. How the sun seeps into the streets and on metro platforms as the day begins. I can see how the new buildings are growing and evolving under construction. I cross over water, wide and deep. And, when I get off the metro, I can walk through the sunlight as I move through the streets on my 5 minute walk from the station to my job. The last corner I turn, I see this. This light, bursting, ready to expand into every corner, every crevice, every moment of my present. And it’s glorious. I feel connected to this earth, this universe and life in a way that confirm, in the gravity of my soul, that there is light. That there is always light.
Light and beauty are everywhere. Life and the forces that sustain it are everywhere. They are the foundation of our existence. Almost every morning, when I walk down this street, I say thank you. In my heart and my soul, for the light. And for eyes that I’ve trained to see it. ;-)