There was no turning back from our exile. My life continued. Though living seemed optional, the alternative was complicated as much as it was inevitable. Did I live to avoid the complication of dying?

There was more to it than that, I thought. Of course there was.

But what was it? Why go on? Well, because there was beauty. At least there was beauty, and the wonderful thing was that beauty was without limit. There was not a finite amount of it in the world, in life. It was impossible to see all of the beauty that was. It was impossible to experience all the beauty that I could not see. And from some wellspring of creativity, beauty was always being created.

My ability to perceive beauty would always be threatened by pain, by sorrow and by grief. It would be threatened also by anger. So long as beauty itself—or my will to perceive it—overcame pain and its kindred spirits—sorrow, grief, anger—then there would be a reason for me, an answer to “why?”

There may have been other answers, but I could not, at that moment, say what they were. It was enough, at that time in my exile, to have the sense that beauty would win the battle with pain.

Was I then merely a bystander? I regretted that I was not a musician or an artist participating in beauty’s creation and expression. Would I discover my participation? Exploring my own ability to create beauty—this seemed to be a worthy cause, a righteous purpose, even.

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