The Beautiful And The Brutal

In recent days, we’ve experienced the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. The most beautiful of beautiful that life has to offer, and the absolute most brutal of brutal.

And really, I’m sure you have too.

Whether it is in listening to the news or listening to a friend share her heart, the beautiful and the brutal seem to never be too far apart. They coexist on the same plane. Life never seems to be all roses, but truly, nor is it ever all thorns.

As I’ve been processing life in all it’s extremes lately, I’ve realized something important.

The beautiful and the brutal of life are equally important, yet, we rarely give them equal billing. Usually, we focus so hard on one or the other in our misguided attempt to process the fact that, thought it seems incomprehensible, life will always contain both extremes.

How do we make space for both the beautiful and the brutal? How do we honor them equally without slipping into denial of one for the sake of idolizing the other? How do we see the beautiful in life when the brutal is so big and so loud? How do we make space in our hearts in minds for the brutal without letting it push out the existence of the beautiful all together?

How do we live honestly, with ourselves and with others, in a life that requires us to accept and straddle the seemingly exclusive extremes of beauty and brutality?

I’m learning more and more that most of life’s greatest dilemmas come down to one thing – perception.

We like to act like we can change things, but the reality is that life is both good and bad. Whether we prefer to live blissfully in denial of the bad, or stay and wallow in the bad at the expense of ever acknowledging the good, both are real. Both come at us daily. And we can’t change that. But we can change how we view that reality.

I’m learning that people tend to process life in one of two ways: emotionally or mentally. (Of course, there is a third option of numbing out and NOT processing but that’s not really what I’m talking about.) And what is interesting to me is that we need BOTH. We need to allow ourselves to feel the beautiful and the brutal of our lives. We need to honor the fact that these experiences are real and they make us feel things. But, we also need to allow ourselves space to process things mentally. We need to allow ourselves to move past emotion and find something a little less subjective. We need to make space for truth. (Truth is that thing that will take you past your emotions and lead you to a greater understanding beyond your experience.)

But, we tend to be better at one or the other and we end up stuck in our emotions or stuck in our heads. Truth without emotion is unfeeling and typically a way of escaping places we are scared to go within ourselves, and emotion without truth is simply unproductive. Those emotions have to lead us somewhere.

I’m learning that the best thing we can do to try and wrap our minds around the beautiful and the brutal aspects of life is to allow them both equal space, equal value, in both our hearts and minds.

We rarely do this, though.

It’s so much easier to pick one viewpoint and see life only through those lens. To be the person looking through the proverbial rose colored classes, or on the other end of the spectrum, the Debbie Downer who only sees the bad.

Neither choice is fully true, because neither choice tells the whole story.

The beautiful and the brutal are two sides of the same coin. Every minute of every day contains both.

Perhaps part of us feels like something is missing in life, or is having a hard time processing all that life entails because we aren’t fully embracing and making space for both.

I don’t want to shut out the hard things in life simply so I can move towards a premature and manufactured  version of joy. Nor do I want to fail to see the incredible gifts that life brings me every single day simply because it’s easier to give the difficult parts of life more attention or weight in my soul.

I want to give the beautiful and the brutal equal value, equal space in my head and my heart. This, I think, is how we live fully in what is a broken but beautiful life. It’s not perfect, but life in all of it’s beautiful and brutal imperfections can have so much meaning and value.

I wonder, will we let it?

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