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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Balancing The Kiss Of Life's Highs And Lows

"How did it happen that their lips came together?  How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill?
A kiss, and all was said...."
                                                 -- Victor Hugo

The anguish of witnessing a world's endless tragedies and atrocities--refugees or floods or corruption, genocide, famine or persecution--sometimes throws me to the deepest part of a dark well.

In the throes of that moment, I know I have choices:  Remain there, head hanging in swirling gloom, is one of them.

Another is just look straight up to the distant light, finding something that will renew my spirit so much that I'll fly out from that dank prison like a falcon.

We human beings are such a curious lot.  One of the most simple but dramatic observations made was in a precious film called "Starman."  

"He has traveled from a galaxy far beyond our own.  He is 100,000 years ahead of us.  He has powers we cannot comprehend.  And he is about to face the one force in the universe he has yet to conquer.  Love."

That was what the 1984 movie poster read.  But it was a line that Jeff Bridges' extraterrestrial said just before the end that really captured something.  A blog writer for Explore Science Fiction noted:

"And when at one point toward the end of the movie he says, 'You humans are at your best when things are worst,' that is not just another sop to the audiences, a piece of ready-made Hollywood wisdom that should make us feel good about ourselves. That line comes from a creature who was shot at and hunted down, and who experienced persecution and hate at the hands of humans."

Monumental ironies all over the map.  That's our fate, it seems, so much of the time, this co-existance of the most wrenching contrasts in our human condition.

Sometimes, too, it boils down to just the extremes of elation and despair.  The heart-warming "VJ Day Kiss In Times Square" photo  at the top of this post well illustrates the former.   

  Something even more horrifying than despair shimmers in a quite different portrait showing us what happens to sisters of Palestinian boys murdered by Israeli soldiers in Gaza.

Again I feel myself plummeting to the bottom of that dark place.  I ruminate, maybe weep like them for a good while. Then I grab some resolve as to what I can do in my own limited path.

But comes the time to look up to that light once more.  It's still there, in the priceless vision of a kiss.  Or a song.  

Or perhaps both.

"In this world of extremes, we can only love too little."
                                           -- Rich Cannarella

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