Every day this month I’ve put my fingers on the keyboard and wrapped words around things human.
That may sound beautiful or fascinating, and in a way, it is. But it also feels like losing a boxing match. Every day. I may make off with fewer breaks and bruises, but not fewer wounds. And these rounds don’t have a final bell.
Today is no different. I sat down to share art with you. An original, massive, communicative piece, haunting and beautiful, that (for me), embodies the spirit of art. And, as hundreds of people took part, its creation exemplifies its purpose. Yes, yes, and YES!
It’s a work created for International Peace Day (something I knew nothing of) depicting the 9,000 souls lost on D-Day. A growing group of participators stenciled 9,000 fallen soldiers in the sand on a Normandy beach in a single day, and watched as the tide carried them away in the evening. There’s a whole website chronicling it and it’s totally worth checking out.
As usual, I perused the topic more widely as I prepared to write, and I remembered that earlier this year, Tsh had written about Normandy over at Simplemom. As I focused on the D-Day portion of her post, I stopped to watch the short History Channel video (embedded below) commemorating the day. Two minutes later, I could no longer see the video through the screen of water in my eyes.
As with all emotionally impacting things, the reasons were more complex than I can enumerate simply, but at least one element of it was imagining what these men must have been feeling – particularly the first to arrive – as they arrived on the beach.
In the past several years, I’ve stared down many fears. Fears of a dismal future, fear of people’s opinions, fears of losing a life (literally and figuratively), fears of failure and others… And I’ve purposefully worked to stare them down and kill them off. Not to ignore them (fat chance), or tell myself they’re stupid or unsubstantiated (they’re not), but to really face them and come to terms with them.
Because the truth this, my future may be dismal, some people will be saddened or maddened by things I say or do or believe or choose. I will fail at most things I attempt, because I attempt too many things and because I’m not God, and any day could be the day an 18-wheeler runs a red light at 50 mph and the Dude doesn’t make it home.
Figuring out how to stare down these fears has been hard work. Even as I write of it, I can feel the choke-hold worming its way up my torso and grasping for my throat. It’s not really there right now, but it’s so familiar that talking about it alights the memory in my senses, and they deliver.
And on the video, I watch these men arrive at the shore, wincing at the roars of artillery, one of them being the first to throw himself into the frigid waters and labor toward the shore. I see them pat each other’s backs as they purpose together toward Hitler’s armies in hopes of helping a people not their own.
Oh good grief; I’m such a whiny juvenile. My fears are real enough, fine. But I face them for myself, knowing there is something better on the other side. And seriously? I’m facing… what exactly? An imperfect life? Someone misunderstanding me? Or, God forbid, not being awesome? Seriously?
These men, and so many others like them in human history, faced fears much greater, often on behalf of others. It’s arresting. And it gives me much to ponder about myself and my generation.
And for yet another day, I sit down to share and walk away wounded.
But in all the best ways.