In Which Leslie Attempts To Write About The Hobbit And Violence And Writes About Beauty Instead

This week has been hard. The senseless violence in Connecticut got to me, dug down deep in my mind and stayed there and I couldn’t even tell you why. It’s not like this isn’t something we’ve haven’t seen before. It’s not like senseless violence doesn’t happen every day. And yet, there it was, like a screw in my brainstem.

Maybe it is because this winter is so soggy and uncomfortable, or the representatives in my home state are being particularly horrible, or maybe it is because I am getting older, because I’m getting married, and because I am looking at the world as an adult, finally old enough to be tired of it.

at times like these I can’t help but question the whole point of this messy, misguided experiment called humanity. I think that the world might be better without us, or maybe most of us. At these times I try, at these times, to remember the moments when MY faith in humanity was renewed.

The first time I can clearly remember was my sophomore year of college. My grandfather had passed away and I had just wriggled my way clear of a rather nasty relationship.  My writing teacher thought I was wasting her time, and told me so. Overall I was not convinced this world had a lot going for it.

I had convinced my family to see the Lion King on stage. When the lights dimmed and the enormous fabric elephants walked down the aisle, lit with red and yellow, moving like the African creatures but silken and vibrant I thought, quite clearly, that human beings were worth it. Look, LOOK, at the things they could come up with, imagine, build, and move! It was amazing. We were amazing.

The second time was in Italy, standing in the Pantheon. Supposedly the barbarians, burning the city, had broken the door down and run inside to destroy it. Then they stood, gazing in awe at the marble walls and the white light filtering down through the massive oculus. They couldn’t destroy it, this impossible thing that their species had created. It stands to this day.

The latest moment came tonight, watching the Hobbit. It wasn’t the entire movie, though the whole movie was wonderful, but the moment when the eagles took flight over the mountains and a woman sang high, clear notes. It was beautiful, and someone had made that for no reason at all. There was no reason to make it in this way, just like this, that tip of the wing, that flash of sun. Yet there it was, real and wonderful, where there was nothing at all before.

And that is the beauty of human creation. There was nothing before, and then there was something. And the thing in between was our brain, our hands.

I have heard that truth is beauty and I find that easy to believe. I find it easy to believe that we endure to create. I find it easy to believe that this makes us good and whole, and maybe even happy.

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