Finding the Good in the Ugly of Life

Dec 05, 2016

Happiness Inspiration Life Perspective Beauty
black dog sitting in a baby swing at playground

It would be an ugly life. But it would be punctuated with great bursts of exaltation. Which, as Gabe would say, is mostly like life, for anyone.

These were lines in a novel I just finished called The Breakdown Lane by Jacquelyn Mitchard. The book, to be honest, wasn’t my favorite but I felt compelled to finish it, devoted bookworm as I am. These lines, however, are what stood out to me out of 400 pages. 402 to be exact.

What I loved is the truth of these lines, put so blatantly, so raw. Isn’t it true, that life is so full of the ugly — loss, death, divorce, disconnection, betrayal, hatred, disease, hopelessness, depression — but every now and then, a burst of exaltation, of euphoria, finds us and brings us back to life, if only for a brief moment. Isn’t that all any of us could hope for?

I don’t know the ugly in your life, how deep it goes or how wide it stretches. But I know there is beauty there too, even if it’s faint. A sunset, a neighbor’s lilac garden, the smell of rain, the sound of a child’s first laugh, forgiveness after years of resentment, the kindness of a stranger, the warmth of autumn sun, a first date, church bells, the lines in a book that bring you to tears. I don’t live in a fairy tale; I just choose to find what still is good and plant my faith there.

Sometimes we have to dig so far down to find it, to sift through life and come upon the light, removing block after block of darkness. And sometimes the only way we can find it is by becoming it, as Elizabeth Gilbert says in this article:

No matter who you are, or where you are, or how mundane or tough your situation may seem, I believe you can illuminate your world. In fact, I believe this is the only way the world will ever be illuminated — one bright act of grace at a time.

Hold on to the bursts of exaltation. Not in the way of attachment, but in the way of cherished adoration. When you have a good day — a really good day — treasure it. When you have a moment of true connection with another, live eternally in it. Become so present in the times that paint a smile on your face that you glow, because they are few and far between these days for most of us. Hold those precious moments with a tender embrace, like a feather, like a memory. The bad days will come again, as they always do, and overstay their welcome.

If I’ve learned anything in my brief time on earth thus far, it’s to grab those bursts of exaltation when they do show up by both hands and dance the night away. The sweetness of a light at the end of a gloomy tunnel can only be felt by those who know the taste of anguish.

May your life be filled with infinite bursts of exaltation, so that you can go out into the world and be a light for those who have seen too much of the ugly.