Friday, January 26, 2007

Letter to a Cousin (Jan. 2007)

Hi [ ]--

I just received your reply. Your concern for my safety is most touching, and I don't quite know what to say, except that I'm profoundly moved and grateful. Not to demean you at all, but I wish I could arouse similar sentiments in my immediate family. Other than my parents and one aunt (who react as you do), no one else seems to be bothered to notice my existence any more. I speak here of siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. They seem to think I'm the 'black sheep' of the family (actions do speak louder than words) and therefore deserving of ostracism, since they seem to think (as far as I can tell) that I have scandalized THEIR REPUTATIONS.

Well, forgive me if I am wrong, but what is worse in your view--to have made some bad mistakes in years past, or to fail to show love and compassion to one's suffering fellow-man in the present? In my own humble opinion, I believe that a person whose heart is filled with God-like love and compassion (whatever his other failings) cannot--by definition--be a bad person.

It grieves me that so many people in my immediate family have not yet learned this most important life-lesson, and I marvel that the same DNA that produced me has also produced them. Very hard not to judge, eh? We are only human, after all ...

I awoke this morning in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to find about five inches of snow on the ground, with an accumulation of about eight to ten inches expected. But at least it's not ICE. Snow can be handled--if done with care and caution. ...

The snow is briskly falling right now, even as I write this, and occasionally the wind slackens, and the mystical flakes really come alive then, magically and dreamily floating on the still air. Ah, what a wonderful sight! It is so profoundly, hauntingly beautiful--it seems to renew the world overnight (as Thoreau said), to transform this tired, dreary, mundane world of sorrows and regrets into such an innocent, childlike wonderland that (in me at least) it helps renew a sense of hope that things can eventually get better. This beautiful, pure, white, driven snow--a gift from God, in the sense that it helps relieve our burden of sorrow, by transforming our perceived world into something almost indescribably lovely and beautiful, into something truly divine--a glimpse of Heaven itself, as it were, and thereby giving us greater hope for the future.

My poet's soul is profoundly moved by a spectacle such as this (even as the practical, truck-driver side of me worries ...).

This pure and beautiful snow, with its transforming power, puts me in mind of what Nietzsche wrote in 1889, even as the madness had started to destroy his mind:

"All the world is transfigured, and the Heavens are filled with Joy..."

And this leads me to ask: had the madness, before it completely destroyed his Reason, perhaps at first briefly afforded some rare glimpse into regions Celestial--into the hidden beauty of this world, ordinarily denied to us mere Mortals? The Japanese have a word for this 'hidden' or subtle beauty: shibui. From Nietzsche's comment, such a thing would seem at least possible--even if it was only in his tragically-deluded mind at that point.

I would like to think so, at any rate: that the capricious gods, before depriving him of his wonderfully brilliant mind forever, gave him one last, final (and very cruel) gift of insight--the epiphany of all epiphanies--into the incredible, marvelous beauty of spirit this world possesses, but which beauty we frequently fail, due to our mental conditioning to the contrary, to properly see and behold.

Oh, how truly the gods do mock us, and use us for their Sport!

T.J. White
15 January, 2007