I'm a cancer survivor and while going through a discussion board dedicated to people who have experienced colorectal cancer I came upon a thread from someone who's birthday is coming up. Unfortunately for her she was diagnosed on her birthday, but rather than turn it into a painful reminder of how her cancer experience bagan she looks for a new way each year to bring a bit of beauty to the day and to step outside of the daily chore that is cancer to do something to remind herself that life is about living and it is something you can do, or should especially do when your days may be limited.
One consistent part of her day is to find a series of songs to play on her iPod that are emotionally compelling and uplifting so as to give her a soundtrack to celebrate her birthday by (in a weird coincidence my surgery was on my birthday, which resulted in the removal of the tumor, but a permanent colostomy as well as a handful of permanent maladies so I am taking a page from this person next June). Seeking some suggestions for music to play she asked for suggestions from people. There were a number of what I would call standard good songs, but there was one in particular that caught my attention. It is a compilation of Over the Rainbow and What a Beautiful World put together and sung by a man named Israel (Iz)Kamakawiwo'ole. It is one of the most beautiful and melancholy arrangements I have ever heard. And after learning a bit about the singer it is one that is moving beyond words.
Iz was Hawaiian, which in and of itself is not extraordinary, but he was a man of great size, someone who would not have been praised for his beauty. And yet as I listen to this song all that I see is beauty and the ability of this person to so completely move me and others with his music and what comes across as a very tender voice.
So it reminds me of the idea that in the same way that Quakers believe there is a bit of God in all people, there is the ability within all people to achieve moments of great beauty. For some it may take a lifetime while others may never find that one thing that makes them truly beautiful. For example, as a cancer patient I saw quite a bit of ugliness and I saw people who are going to die, and die soon. But I also, in the midst of all of that saw people who had found that one thing, and often it came in a simple gesture of being among so much pain to offer hope and comfort and to always remind the people in their care that they are not alone.
I think too, that if I had to sum up my practice of writing, that it would be to perpetually seek that which may be beautiful and replicate it on the written page.
Causes James Buchanan Supports
Expanding health care in the US, ending war as a viable tool of foreign policy, and issues related to social justice in general.