Oh, what are my grief and my trouble, if I am able to be happy? You know, I don’t understand how it’s possible to pass by a tree and not be happy to see it. To talk with a man and not be happy that you love him! Oh, I only don’t know how to say it… but there are so many things at every step that are so beautiful. Look at a child, look at God’s sunrise, look at the grass growing, look into the eyes that are looking at you and love you…
-Prince Myshkin in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot
I took this picture in coastal Oregon, when I was on a trip with my parents. Since I had just graduated from my high school, my parents let me choose the location. I chose the Oregon coast in an attempt to visit a place that mimicked the rocky shores of Ithaca (Homer’s The Odyssey). I found much more than rocky shores. I was able to take hikes in beautiful woods, see rushing streams, read with my feet in the sand, and spend time with my family overlooking the most magnificent views. It just so happened that I was reading Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, while on this trip. This quote, even though I wasn’t far enough in the book while on the trip, makes me look back at this trip in a different light. It also makes me look at my current situation differently. How could I possibly be grieved or troubled? How could I be unhappy, when the Lord has blessed me with all that he has? Even if I was in a horrible place, struggling with grades, friends, and my spiritual life (which I am not currently), I could at least look at God’s creation and still be happy. I could look at my older brother and know that we love each other and be happy. I could have a conversation with my closest friends, knowing the depth of our bonds, and be happy. We always have something to be thankful for, and we always have something to be joyful about. Always. There is obvious and inherent beauty surrounding us every day. We need to wake up and realize what we have been blessed with.
[Photo by Joseph Jekel]