Beautiful is one of those words I frequently hear used to describe human experiences. Childbirth, for example, is often described as “beautiful.”
I never know how to react to that. On the one hand, yes, absolutely, childbirth is beautiful and miraculous and whatever else you think it is, especially if you’re telling your own story because everyone’s experience is valid. On the other hand, “miracle?” “Amazing?” Yes. “Beautiful?” Ehhh… I don’t know. There’s a lot of blood, goo, and mind blowing pain involved.
When my daughter was crowning the nurse was like, “Oooh, I can see the head! Do you want me to get a mirror so you can see too?” My husband reacted like an enthusiastic science nerd. I tried to spew venom out of my eyeballs at both of them because yelling was out of the question since my whole goddamn pelvis was busy irrevocably altering itself and everything I had beyond eyeball energy was concentrated on that. In retrospect, it’s kind of amazing and beautiful that they both remained un-murdered by me.
The concept of new life springing forth from a loving marriage might be beautiful, but the reality is messier.
I wonder if that’s how “beautiful” actually works when it comes to life events: there’s all this cool,gorgeous stuff happening but then there’s this icky-under-belly of reality and biology that’s difficult to reconcile with descriptive terms that are meant to paint life in the soft, romantic light of a Monet, so the underbelly is left out in the retelling.
Last weekend, I went to plant early spring vegetables in the neighborhood garden outside my friend’s house. The sun was shining. Children were laughing. Chickens and a bunny were frolicking in a field not two feet away. The day had that sort of pleasantly hazy, wholesome feel to it.
“Wow, It’s like a Hallmark card!” I said when I noticed the chickens and their leporidean side kick. “I never thought about rabbits hanging out with chickens but it completely makes sense!”
“Oh yeah,” said my friend. “We have a separate hutch for the rabbit, but he won’t sleep there. He likes to sleep with the chickens. In fact, he’s so into the chickens that… well, we think he’s trying to start a new species. When you think of it, a chicken-rabbit hybrid would be kind of perfect for Easter.”
Are you kidding? That would be *totally* perfect for Easter. Also, the image of a bunny furiously copulating against fetching hen gams is kind of hard to shake.
Which leads me to describe our lovely spring morning of gardening as beautiful and very affirming of the validity of the phrase “at it like rabbits.”
So life is beautiful. Also, intimately connected to biology and kind of gross.
I wonder if the beauty and the ick aren’t inextricably connected. Like part of being human is bothering to make the effort to paint a Monet over goo. We use the trappings of modernity and pretty language to make ourselves more than just rabbits with a fetish.
So maybe I don’t even need to say that beautiful has an underbelly. Because without the underbelly, it wouldn’t be beautiful.