How Beauty Helps Me Look on the Bright Side of Life

It’s almost like I’ve been in a science fiction story over the last week. I’ve inhabited a world in which all niggling and gargantuan points of tension lifted away. All I did was gaze at exquisite wildlife and scenery, breathed pungently healing air, listened to sweet bird cries. Nothing could crowd out those wonders; nothing could make me feel guilty for this lack of productivity, in the normal sense of the word.

Yes, I was on vacation. But in case you’re feeling envious, let me tell you: this wasn’t my usual sort of holiday.

In most cases, I take time off from the daily grind to do more writing in a state of semi-solitude. This time, I pushed nearly all writing aside and spent some time with two of my sisters-in-law hiking around Big Sur in California.

As a result, I have more fascination with positive news. For example, did you hear about the dogs that can distinguish the smell of COVID-19 on the breath and sweat of infected people? Imagine how that can improve conditions at public places, like airports.

While I try to focus on stories like that one, I don’t want to completely block out the crazy stuff going on. Instead, I’m just letting it recede into background noise and carefully selecting when I want to engage with it or take notice.

Can I continue to keep looking “on the bright side of life,” to quote Eric Idle’s song in MONTY PYTHON’S LIFE OF BRIAN? All bets are off.

Be that as it may, this vacation was crucial. I needed to do something that took me well out of my normal orbit – something that allowed me to observe my typical movements from a distance and remember the gargantuan mountains I climbed over the last year. The launch of my first novel, THE JUICE. Doing everything in my power to keep my husband, David, alive but failing at that. (And I repeat: Fuck you, cancer.) Moving to a new home, which gave us more solitude and serenity in David’s final months. Helping to orchestrate two celebrations of his life.

You might say I needed a break.

In addition to greater appreciation for stories like the one about those COVID-sniffing dogs, I also discovered other extremely valuable things, like a very particular energy in David’s mother and one sister that is so much like his own. There was also the smile of another sister that is almost a duplicate of his. And I felt the sense of David with me as I used his walking stick to navigate a rocky decline down a mountain.

Now I can face life’s tougher aspects with an improved attitude and maybe write better than I ever have before. It’s all because of the sighting of three deer in a redwood forest; the surreal blue of a Stellar Jay; some yummy reds in a couple of wineries; a hot tub nearly every night. But most especially, because of a family that has encircled and supported me in ways I didn’t expect.

Now there’s more hope that I can live life in a better way, in David’s memory, and with my own sense of purpose.

Leave a Comment