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Quiet Desperation

In a world often awash in ugliness, beauty is the best place to retreat


Don’t look at me. And don’t look to me.

When someone like Harvey, Irma, Maria or Stephen Paddock comes along who challenges existence in ways that are difficult to rationalize, explain or accept, don’t look to me for answers, because I don’t have any.

And I never will.

Some (of you) look to the Bible (and religious leaders) when a disaster occurs, or when human beings run amok. I am sure the pages are getting a workout.

Counseling comes in handy. Entire sections in libraries and bookstores are dedicated to help books, designed to get you through the constant drone of Mother Nature and human nature.

I am almost talked out when it comes to the things that people do to people. How will anyone ever completely understand why Stephen Paddock did what he did, or why those Columbine boys did what they did, or why ISIS does what it does?

Can’t be done.

I struggle with it intellectually, bring in some emotion, and eventually resign myself.

I have tried a lot of things, all the way down to alcohol therapy, which could erase a few days. But when I came out of the pool, the story hadn’t improved.

Lately, I have been listening to good music. In my world, good music doesn’t mean flailing arms, costume changes, backup dancers, salacious lyrics or a repetitive cadence that best complements Ultimate Fighting.

Mozart is my prescription. Mozart was very prolific (more than 600 works) in a very short life (35 years).

Or I will watch a movie I have watched many times before, that I know won’t make things worse. That leaves out violence and special effects. That leaves out most of the films that have been made in this century.

That leaves out everything that involves Bruce Willis.

I know that violent films are money-makers, and that is why they are made.

I don’t know why anyone pays to see them.

Save your money, turn on the television and watch the nightly news.

I have heard that it’s escapism. Escapism from what? It’s just more of the same.

Someone somewhere is directing a film right now that will involve automatic weapons and multiple fatalities. Beats me.

Humor helps.

I spent the day when I heard about Paddock reading quotes. I am a quote junkie.

I read one George Bernard Shaw quote after another. He could be a romantic (“Pygmalion,” which became “My Fair Lady”), but most of the time he was as cantankerous as I am, but far more eloquent.

“I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”

That one seems very timely. I’ll leave it up to you to make the connection.

And this one, which better explains what I meant, about listening to Mozart on a difficult day.

“You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.”

I asked Jennifer how she gets by, and she said she had become immune. After a while, one thing after another, it can become an unbearable weight. One way to make it bearable is to accept it and move on.

Someone ate pancakes in a Las Vegas hotel room this morning.

I recommend Mozart’s “Piano Concerto #1 in C Op 15.”

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net


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