Friday, February 6, 2009

Beautiful morning

When I was growing up, my Dad would occasionally burst into spontaneous song (something that I truly miss hearing on a regular basis), and sometimes that song would be "Oh, what a beautiful morning" from "Oklahoma!". Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day! I've got a beautiful feeling...everything's going my way!

Mornings are the best time of the day for me, although I often forget that. I'll be tired, won't want to get up, would rather curl down under warm blankets next to warm husband for just a few...more...minutes. I am not even a late riser, but the real morning--the best parts of the morning--are the earliest parts, the pale, pearled moments wrapped around the dawn.

Sometimes, though, I will be up for the early morning, and I will remember how I love it. How I love the darkness shading through grays to lights. How I love the blue-white quiet of the waking world, and the gentle veil of peace that drapes behind and above even the most frenzied starts of days. I think I need that, almost like I need to breathe. I need that simple beauty.

I used to tell people that I chose to go to Duke for college because it was pretty. I wasn't serious, but then again, I never had a really good, true answer for why I chose to go there. Or rather, never an answer that felt completely true to me. Now, though, I wonder if perhaps there was more validity to the prettiness response than I had originally thought. Duke is beautiful. Baltimore, for all that I love her, is not.

She has her moments. I believe that there is beauty in everything, from mud to magnolias, and I enjoy finding that beauty. But sometimes I have to struggle to see Baltimore's beauty amidst her boarded-up buildings and broken concrete, beyond the knowledge of her homicides and drug trafficking and gang activity. Perhaps this is part of the struggle and the purpose of life--to see the goodness and the loveliness in the ordinary moments, and the painful ones. Yet sometimes, just as we long to have a day that is simply good, I sometimes long to be surrounded by beauty that is simply beautiful. Beauty that just is, quietly and naturally, without my having to try so hard to see it.

When I do find myself somewhere beautiful--the mountains of Washington state, the forests of Maine--it feels like a breath released that I hadn't realized I was holding. Can we drown without knowing it for lack of beauty?

I am not much of a city person. I want my sunshine filtered through canopies of summer leaves, my frost spread out like lace on barren winter fields. I want my skies framed in branches, not buildings. I miss being able to walk outside of the door in Sykesville or outside of my dorm room at Duke and being surrounded by unavoidable beauty. Beauty that made me rush to write about it in the backs of my spiral notebooks and the margins of my lecture notes. I haven't written as much since I started graduate school, and I wonder how much of it is busyness, and how much of it is that the beauty of my surroundings is less obvious. Perhaps I am looking for excuses, but perhaps there is a genuine correlation.

There are still beautiful mornings in the city, like this one. Blue and white and gray. But often, I forget that. I forget to notice the beauty in the ordinary things. Someday, I hope to live again in a place where beauty reminds me of itself every day, and in doing so, reminds me to see it in places where I might not have thought to look.