Beauty and Madness

This is my blog. I can write whatever I want. Any word, any phrase, any sentence. Any sentence! Picture this freedom. Try to imagine it for a second. I can’t. Can you? It’s too big! Where do I even begin imagining? The vastness of it is overwhelming.

On some days, the freedom of what to write about drives me mad. The choice is a great burden. How do I pick among thousands of topics and trillions of word combinations? At the same time, it is only from this chaos that beauty can emerge. If I pick the right words, if I make the letters sing, it’s a feat for the ages. “How did he wrestle those lines from infinite possibility?” Usually, I’m the one least inclined to have an answer.

Beauty is what happens when we look square at the madness and bring something back. Without madness, there can be no beauty — and vice versa.

You don’t have to wear old rags and live in the woods to be a great painter, but if you want the potential for beauty, you must also accept the potential for madness. Will the painting you imagine make it onto the canvas? Or will your mind distract you too much with its constantly moving images?

Every day could be the day a sprinter breaks her personal record. It could also be the day she trips, falls, and will never run again. Where there’s beauty, there’s madness.

Humans aren’t built to run organizations with thousands of people. Does the CEO go with this proposal or that, this schedule or that one, her gut or her trusted advisors? She must get thousands of tiny decisions right in sequence, but if she does, the resulting product will be astonishing.

Chaos, chance, and choice all start with the same two letters. Coincidence? Maybe they’re the madness side of the equation. The oppressors trying to get the best of us. But a chance can also be a break. A gap in the chaos. An opportunity.

Composure, conviction, and compassion. Those also start with the same two letters. Are they the stewards of beauty? We need to be patient, passionate, and forgiving. That’s how we fly through the hole in the chaos, first to steal from it and then to return home safely with our loot.

When you see beauty, remember that, at some point, a sacrifice was made to attain it. And when you’re making beauty — and, every day, you are making beauty — don’t step too close to the madness.