As I write today, I think of Paris. Is it a world away? Not really. It is here. In my home. In my own sanctuary. At my desk and in my thoughts. As I write today, I resolve to send out images of peace. Images of what man has built for the world to admire. Images that speak of the creativity of the human mind. Images of people at rest, at peace, at leisure. I pause and wonder why that feels so important. Today. It’s something I do because I love to write, to share my images, to encourage people to travel with an open mind and a curiosity about the world. But today, especially, it seems important to counteract the horror and the dark side of life. The grief, the despair. And today I write not with a feeling of disbelief in the horrors taking place in Paris and other parts of the world, but with the chilling knowledge that it is out there. Anywhere. And because I have a voice and I can write, I write so I can bring images from my lens out to the world. To the world we all are invested in. The only world we have. The world where there is still beauty.
I am reminded of Anne Frank, the fifteen-year-old whose diary survived her life shortened by another horror. Not that long ago. I wrote about Anne on the anniversary of her birthday. I am not original in my belief that even today, only a few hours after the world learned of casualties caused from a collective dark side of the human mind, that there is beauty still. There is hope of change. There is hope. “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world”, Anne Frank wrote. And that’s all we really have. Today. So often in my daily life, I hear those words. Be in the moment. Be present while I am fixing my morning mug of coffee, my toast that must be just that certain shade of golden brown; a certain texture not too crisp or dry. While I ponder over what is next: cereal and fruit or an egg today? Be present. Be in the moment. It’s all we have. I hear those words now. But do I hear them while I am moving about? Letting the dog out? Do I even look outside when I open the door? Not that often. I know what’s out there, I say. But do I? When is the last time I stopped. Took in the view from my front door? Watched as my sweet McGee hobbles down the front steps on his nineteen year old legs. I know his time with us is limited. My time is limited. Our time is limited. Anne Frank knew her time was limited in a way most of us never have to face. Until today. Now. This moment. It is out there. Everywhere. But Anne believed there was still good in the world. Beauty. Always. And she left that part of her behind.
In spite of all that has happened in the last few hours in Paris, there is still beauty. In spite of whatever happens in Syria or Sarajevo, Africa or Arabia, Israel or Ireland, Uganda or the United States, life builds upon beauty and life flourishes with love. Every time. Every time. Life flourishes with love. And will continue to do so as long as there is nature to revive us, and there always will be. We are inspired by nature, attracted to beauty. We build our lives around beauty. Create it, make it happen, gather it around us in moments of joy or sorrow. We find comfort in beauty. We feel safe and secure when there is beauty. Terrified in its absence. So we recover. We build. We don’t just go through the motions. We thrive. Because we know we must. Even in the aftermath of loss, a heartbreak, we know we must get to a place of beauty again. Because beauty and goodness will overcome. It will win against terror and it will win against heartbreak. Every time…every time.
Anne Frank did not live in vain. She wanted to be useful. To bring joy to others. She did. She did what she was able to do. In spite of. Or maybe because of. We don’t know. But her life, her words give the rest of us the example. The resolve. The tenacity to bring to others what we are able. Whatever that is. We will not all build Eiffel Towers, or carve marble into images of greatness, cast copper or iron into intricacies to be marveled at. We will not all attain great levels of success such that decades and millenea from now, someone will pave roads and move mountains to see what we left behind. But life flourishes on love. And love is opening a door to someone in crisis. A hug. A smile. Warmth shared and safety offered. For that moment. Now. It’s all we really have.