We have organizations and historical societies comprised of people who spend their lives preserving what was once precious and is now in ruins. Some pay thousands of dollars in airfare to visit sights like the Coliseum or Mayan Ruins.
There’s a unique and indescribable beauty in the brokenness and destruction. It’s like walking through hundreds of years of history and taking part in it yourself.
So why is it that we can only appreciate physical destruction and ruin, but not our own spiritual or emotional?
One thing that has made my life exponentially more wonderful is when I realized that there is something beautiful, nay precious, about the shit-storms we survive.
We revisit physical ruins, yet most of the time if there is pain in our pasts, particularly with a broken heart, it is seen as some colossal disaster. Did I fail as a human being because I was rejected by the man I once loved? Or did I win in some way, because I was able to open the most intimate parts of my heart to another person?
If every time I was rejected, every time he couldn’t say “I love you too” there was a stone knocked over in my life, by the time I’m 80 I’ll have a ruin worth revisiting. In some strange way, it allows me to appreciate all the people that have meandered their way in and out of my heart, the times I was told no, the rejection, the failures, and the people who just didn’t like me.
I understand the idea of not wanting to dig up a buried body, but at what point has the body decayed into bones, who’s sole purpose is to be excavated and used for scientific purpose?
I have distinct memories of crying over a bowl of ice cream, tears soaking the hot screen of my phone as it lay against my cheek; one of my best friends sitting on the other line, listening to me wallow in my sadness. Truthfully, the origins of my pain are unknown to me now, but I remember what she said after my tirade.
“We’ll at least you’ve got something to cry about. I mean, Rachel I don’t want this to seem weird and I know things are hard but I’m jealous you’ve had all these experiences. My fear is that my life has been and will continue to be boring. I mean, this is shitty, but you’ve lived a lot and that’s something to consider”
I think about this conversation often. We’ve delved deeper into it many times since then and each time it has made me oh so grateful. Of all of the things I will ask of myself, of all that I will wonder about the world and the life I architect, the one question I’ll never have to ask is if it was all boring.
Now at this point in my life, as I phase into a new era, I find myself excavating those old bones for different reasons; sometimes I just like to laugh at myself, other times to determine the cause of death. In either or any scenario, I always find my big problems, the big pterodactyl skull looming underneath a thin film of dirt, always make everything else seem small.
It’s like riding a rollercoaster- once you’ve felt the first drop and your scream lowers several octaves while your heart and bladder trade places inside your body, the subsequent twists and turns don’t feel that bad. It’s always the initial drop that makes us scream like Cher, but then the noise evolves into screaming laughter.
So my drop, my pterodactyl carcass, my large dead-beat horse I've dragged around, have all allowed me to contextualize my grief to see it as something beautiful.
I wouldn’t be me, hell I wouldn’t be writing this, had I not felt that pain. There’s something quite beautiful about that, at least to me. And maybe it makes me a fool or it can quite possibly be a coping mechanism, but I would rather feel content amongst the destruction than a manic perfectionist with a fragile existence, fearful of the past and bored with the prospects of the future.
Written by Rachel Saran
CrossFitter, aspiring lawyer & writer spending free time road tripping around the United States in search of good food, good waves, and a good story!