I’ve been having headaches off and on since March. I’m currently in the middle of going to doctors, getting scans, and trying different meds. I have a history of migraines with all the same weird symptoms that come along with my current headaches (visual disturbances, tingling face, dizziness, lightheadedness, feeling faint, and difficulty hearing). However, these headaches are less severe than my usual migraines when it comes to pain. It’s almost as if my severe migraines have decided to torture me in small installments rather than one, lump payment. So, they aren’t as debilitating as my full-blown migraines, and I honestly think if I were working and going out and about doing things, I wouldn’t mind them so much because I’d be preoccupied.
But as you know, this has been a very weird year. I was teaching from home for the last quarter of the school year, and when summer break finally came, there was no real sense of crossing the finish line. It was more like we just kind of ran out of gas before we even ever saw the finish line, and when I looked around only about 10% of my students were still with me. The rest had already jumped ship when they got bored and realized we weren’t really going to make it to the end anyway.
After kind of stumbling and limping into summer break, everything was closed. All of my most interesting stories now begin with, “There’s this YouTuber I follow…” or “There was this YouTube video I saw…”
Social media, which should have been a blessing in a time of social isolation became a source of conflict and division. At the same time, local and small businesses announced they were closing their doors forever after being basically shut down indefinitely by politicians with good intentions. The economy went into free-fall as the government tried to remedy the situation by pushing our national debt up to literally incomprehensible heights.
Oh, and I’m still having day-long headaches every couple of days through all of this. It has been hard to see the beauty in this situation, to say the least.
If you know me at all, have had any in-depth conversations with me, or have followed my blog at all, you will know that one of my favorite subjects to think about and discuss is the concept of beauty. I love to read about, think about, talk about, and write about the concept of beauty. I believe that the existence of beauty is very convincing proof that there is something bigger going on behind all of this ugliness and hardship in our world.
Earlier this year, I was having a rough week. It was one of those times when things felt bleak, and nothing would lift my spirits. But I went for a run one morning, and the weather was perfect. At one point, I looked up, and behind the trees the sun was flickering through the leaves, branches, and twigs. I believe God used that moment to remind me that beauty is always there, illuminating the dark world. All we have to do is look up and notice it.
I have a letter board inside next to my front door that says, “PURSUE BEAUTY & SEEK GOD” as a reminder before I head out for the day because I believe our pursuit of beauty, which manifests itself in a variety of ways, is actually a desire to be reunited with the perfect source of beauty: God.
Something I’ve had trouble doing through all of this stuff we’ve had to deal with is simply notice beauty and allow myself to be overwhelmed and in awe of something greater than myself.
When the belief in God or a belief in anything existing outside of human sensory experience (beauty, goodness, morality, perfection, etc.) is removed from life and shoved into the periphery, things like beauty are seen as cheesy and too good to be true (It’s no coincidence that art has become uglier as society becomes more secular, but I digress). The harshness of the world becomes what is actually real, and the ultimate destination of human life is death.
However, I believe in a God of beauty and goodness who will have the final say over all of this. I believe that all the ugliness and terrible things we endure are the temporary things. Beauty reminds us that there is redemption in the midst of ugliness.
I recently read about the crucifixion of Jesus. It was ugly, dark, and violent. But in the end, life and goodness win. Behind the darkness and ugliness, a greater beauty was shining through.
I suppose I am writing this as a reminder to myself to continue to seek beauty. I need to keep painting, keep writing, keep loving, and keep my eyes on reality in these times when it is so easy to be distracted.