Friday, July 27, 2012

It's not beautiful.

My friend Sega and I were walking along a path near the village, one evening. I noticed the sunset, and stopped with a gasp. Sega asked me, "What? Why are you stopping? What are you looking at?"
I pointed to the sky, and said, "Look!"
She responded, "Yes... that's the sky..."
I said, "But look, it's beautiful!"
She looked for a second, and then turned away as though it was of no interest to her, saying, "Yes, that's the sky, and it's red."
I was floored. I wondered if she just didn't see beauty the way I did, or if she was pulling my leg, or maybe even if she was color blind.
And then I realized. She just didn't care. The sunset wasn't going to feed her. It wasn't going to clothe her, or heal her ailments, or find her water. It was just the sky, doing what it sometimes did. The sun setting was merely a signal that she'd lived and survived another day.
In my village, to a person who lives every day just to survive, nature is neither beautiful nor ugly. It just IS. Nature can make their lives harder, or easier, depending on the season.
Rain is not beautiful. It can be good. It helps grow their crops, it fills up their streams with water to drink, it cools things off. And sometimes, it destroys their crops, taking away the food that they so desperately need.
Fire is not beautiful. It can be good. It is to cook over, to take the chill out of their bones in winter time, to forge metal things into useful tools. And sometimes, it burns down their entire village, or their fields, or their children.
Trees are not beautiful. They are for climbing in search of fruits, or cutting for the use of their wood, or for giving shade. And sometimes, boa constrictors fall from them onto people, and sometimes people fall from them, and they either survive, or they don't.
The sunrise is not beautiful, it only means that another day of hard labor has begun. The hard labor of just making it until sunset, which is also not beautiful. It's just the end of another day.