He has the most beautiful drive in front of him, but he can’t see anything; he’s thinking about the mortgage, how his status weighs up against others, how expensive his children are, what he was. He’s blind to beauty.
Suddenly a wind comes from the Atlantic, he is jolted from this thoughts by this buffeting, the car swerves out of control, he regains control, the car is back on the road, but he is back; back to beauty. He has remembered his soul.
He suddenly regains the forgtotten skills of the aesthete. He recognises nature, he sees swans lifting off the lake to the right of the road (they were there, anyway) he feels the weather, he surmises and ends with the most beautifiul words of the poem… “My heart was caught off-guard and it was burst wide open”.
Being able to understand Heaney’s beauty and (whatever you love of culture and the poetry or the book or the music that has DEFINITELY affected you at some time) is stage one. The second stage is more tricky. You know that you have it within you to know this truth, but rather like our Galway driver, you can’t remember and it drives you insane that you can’t get it back.
Then you buy a book, perhaps a book that you’ve already read, maybe your mate or lover recommended it to you or one that you always wanted to read. Kindle, print, whatever, you are transported back to your soul and then a paragraph screams at you, does a Seamus Heaney on you.
It reminds you of your personal magnitude and your worthy existence and it makes you realise it’s not just about the job, the money, the family, the recession, the fear, the Arab Spring, mobile couponing… it’s all about the beauty that other humans make, and you could cry from relief that it still exists and it still speaks to you.
That happened to me this week when I re-read The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
It’s on page 87 of my edition and, for me, it describes the perfect city night out, be it Manhattan or London or anywhere. It’s about youth, it’s not even really nostalgic, it’s just beautiful…. and I had really forgotten I could still feel it.
Here it is:
“The stark and unexpected miracle of a night fades out with the lingering death of the last stars and the premature birth of the first newsboys.”
Now, that might not be for you and I don’t care that much if it isn’t, but that has given me a smack of emotion and understanding that brings me back to my soul, my lost, carefree and lazy soul, that I really should give much more attention to… and is maybe not as rotten as I thought.