The blue sky is blue, like blue bubblegum

Someone once accused me of overusing the word “beautiful.” I didn’t ask for further clarification, so I’m not quite sure what exactly she meant by “overusing,” unless she thought that I throw around the word “beautiful” so much that some of its meaning chips off. But I don’t know how that’s possible, and so I disagree with her, and I pity those who can’t find beauty even if it’s staring them in the face.

There is no such thing as too much beautiful. The beauty is everywhere. I just acknowledge it and appreciate it. Ain’t nothing wrong with that, I say.

Maybe my friend was jaded. Or perhaps she was just being realistic. Either is valid and understandable. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always know enough about the state of the world to have a suitably articulate and intellectual discussion about it, and I’ll also be the first to admit that that’s a sad thing indeed. I don’t know as much as I should about international policies and political economy, about foreign relations and humanitarian issues, and yet even I know enough to be quite aware that the world is a jacked-up place, that not everyone has access to beauty as I do. And I constantly wonder what I could do to fix that, I really do. It’s just that the link between thinking and acting is, for me, all too often a tenuous one.

But I don’t think there’s anything whatsoever wrong with being easily amused though, or reveling in the beautiful moments that come my way, moments that I don’t choose, but which choose me instead. I cling to the beautiful, and that’s what keeps me happy and sane. If anything about my mentality and mindset could ever be characterized as “sane,” that is.

So these are my beautiful moments:

Beautiful is the four-year-old boy with blonde hair and gray eyes, who watched me secretly for several minutes at the public library before walking up to me, aiming the full measure of his gap-toothed grin my way, and whispering loudly, “Assalaamu alaikum!”

Beautiful is the sound of silence, on the days I listen hard enough.

Beautiful is my pajama-clad father, wandering around the house with his endless cups of coffee, singing the Beatles and Pashto songs while my mother smiles indulgently.

Beautiful means miracle-bubble bottles and 94-pack of crayons as birthday presents, bead bracelets and construction-paper hats, and all the other little things that remind me of kindergarten.

Beautiful is the peace found in the University arboretum, on a bench behind the School of Law.

Beautiful means nonchalantly ordering french fries at the most expensive Italian restaurant in town, and amusedly watching the waiter widen his eyes in uncontained horror.

Beautiful means road trips with friends, empty freeways late at night, mix CDs that cradle a memory within each track.

Beautiful is my sister’s wide smile and my brother’s rib-crushing bear-hugs, and the way laughter comes so easily to all of us.

Beautiful means the stars in the sky, the deer on our street, my father’s firm belief that a walk in the gardens is a perfect cure for a horrid day.

Beautiful is my friend, Jason, overawed and visibly shaken after witnessing a shahadah, because it brought back memories of his own conversion a year ago.

Beautiful means driving over a bridge and turning my head to look down and marvel at the bay.

Beautiful means the fuzzy blue socks I wear around the house, even though my family laughs at me for always being cold.

Beautiful are the hills and mountains which serve as a personal reminder that I’m almost home.

Beautiful is my learned ability to constantly redefine the word “home,” to appreciate the merits of change, to laugh at my faults yet silently attempt to change them.

Beautiful is the expression on my tutees’ faces when they’ve grasped a difficult calculus concept.

Beautiful means stretching out on a window-seat up on the third floor of the University library, the huge branches of the courtyard tree serving as my towering neighbor on the other side of the glass, so that I feel as if I’m enclosed within my very own tree-house.

Beautiful means being conscious of God’s presence with a clarity that increases daily.

Beautiful is a rain-drenched, flower-filled wheelbarrow; a toddler’s chubby arms around my neck; the sound of leaves blowing across the road.

Beautiful means time well-spent with friends, means laughing too loud and so hard that my stomach aches and my eyes water and I almost fall out of my chair.

You still reading? I could go on ‘til my fingers fell off from all this typing, and it still wouldn’t be enough.

Tell me what you find beautiful.

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