An important message that will likely fall on deaf ears… (8/2008)
I can’t say that she is beautiful. Not because she isn’t—she is. But because I worry.
I worry that what I say won’t be heard as it is intended. Her scrambler box will morph something meant to convey ‘pretty eyes’ and ‘clear skin’ and ‘soft, luxurious hair’ into just one thing, into one Lessening Common Denominator, into words and thoughts and emotions so far removed from my intent it is a wonder we can communicate at all.
Worse, her scrambler box will convert the deeper meaning of my well-intentioned compliment. I mean to say, “of course you are flawed—we all are—but you are loved despite your flaws.” I mean to say, “I know you feel pain—crushing at times—and I am thoroughly awed by the grit with which you fight it, and the poise with which you bear it.” I mean to say, ‘If I believed in G-d, I would kick his ass for hurting you and burdening you, the softest, loveliest butterfly on the planet.’
I want to rip the damn scrambler box out of her and stomp on it until it is pulverized beyond recognition, until it is unable to distort and confuse ever again, until it is unable to cause pain ever again.
So I won’t say it. It’s frustrating and saddening not to be able to say it, I’ll have you know. But I won’t make it worse. I’ll try not to, anyway. Instead, I’ll think it. I’ll think it fiercely so the thought signal is transmitted through the limited conductivity of a gentle smile, a tender gaze. I will will it so that—against all scientific theories—the bonhomie I feel will travel through the ether, will force its way through the apparent infinity between healthy and ill, and touch her.
Perhaps instead of flailing with the spoken word, or trying brainwave transmission beams, I should write her a letter. Like this one. My letter would tell her—is telling her—you—that while I do not experience your pain, I don’t doubt for a second it is real for you; that while I do not truly comprehend it, I understand that it is horrible; that while I don’t know what to do to help, I wish beyond the stars that I did; and that while you probably feel all too small and weak and alone to deal with everything, you are not alone.
You are never alone. Your loved ones are here for you. And if by some chance your loved ones are not, your friends are. And if by some chance your friends are not, complete strangers are. Yes, it’s true. Complete strangers.
Humanity—the awe-inspiring capability of human beings to care about, and for, other human beings—is something in which you should never lose faith. Accept it from others when they offer it. Ask it of them if they do not offer. And look for it—demand it—from yourself, too.
And so, finally, I will falter and tell you: You are beautiful. Even when you feel your ugliest, your darkest. You are beautiful not because of the wrapping paper and shiny bow that is your body, but because within the wrapping paper, inside the box, is the ultimate beauty: a human being. Your soul. You.
Even more importantly, you are loved. Even when you feel ugly and are in your darkest moments. Simply because you are a human being. And, as such, worthy of love. It is as simple as that, and as important as that.
So, join us, those of us who love you, beautiful you.