“…Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
-Adam Zagajewski, Try to Praise the Mutilated World
One day, you think of the News, and you realize that you no longer feel your heart race, your breath run shallow, and your eyes well up with scorching tears. You wonder how you got to this point, where it doesn’t ache constantly.
You think about the millions of your countrymen and countrywomen who felt as if they were left behind, and cast votes steeped in fear that was cleverly disguised in a cloak of anger, and you wonder about empathy. You think about the fear in men a century and a half ago who, in an attempt to preserve some semblance of unity across a vast schism- people who believed it was just to enslave their fellow human beings, and people who didn’t, cemented into place the system
by which your country chose the subject of today’s News.
Yes, it doesn’t ache constantly, but sometimes it takes you by surprise just how intensely the pain strikes when it does. There’s also something else, though, something disparate from the News.
There’s beauty. There are the children who have long since stopped jeering about the color of your skin, who now prefer to inquire about your life and offer friendly hellos as you go by. There is watermelon in January. The pride in the voices of your family when they tell neighbors about you. The cherished friend, 6,000 miles away, who promises, “You will come home to a country that is fighting back.” Each night, the stars go on shining, and each morning, as the stars peacefully depart from their watchful post in the sky, the sun goes on rising.
For a moment, you leave behind the News, trading it for a faraway story, and as you lay on the soft, ancient earth, reading the novel that’s resting on your chest, you notice the steady, forceful beat of your heart. You breathe deeply, wondering about your heart, and sending it gratitude. You realize that for as long as it goes on beating, if you look hard enough, you will figure out how to find places of love and empowerment, no matter how untidily the universe twists itself together.
With all of your heart, you praise the mutilated world.