No, itís not Tchaikovskyís virgin princess. Nor is it a voluptuous female stretching out under satin sheets. I want to say that it isnít female, at allóbut Iím not certain, for why, then, would I come up with such a term as sleeping beauty? As I try to grasp the essence of it, sometimes I am reminded of the concept "earth mother." But that has other connotations that clutter up my thought process. It seems fruitless to attempt to visualize, or to describe, this something I sense. Every word or group of words finally fails.
Still, itówhatever it isóremains. Itís that feeling of well-being that comes when I observe affection in others. Itís the odd fullness in the throat, the impulse to cry out, when I see an animal caught in traffic. Itís the internal smile that comes with recognizing my own ineptitude in a situation, when my ego doesnít get caught up in it. Itís that aha! reaction when something that had been difficult and confusing for me suddenly becomes clear. Itís that moment of awe I feel when all the pieces come together, like a puzzle that rearranges itself and reveals its meaning. It always seems out of my control.
In fact, it often feels as though itís not me. Itís something wiser than I, something more compassionate, something more responsive to others, something smarter than I could ever be. Itís that occasional, even rare, certainty, that deep knowing that whatever horror Iíve seen, whatever hurt Iíve felt, whatever despair has gripped me at times, at the bottom of everything is something that encompasses it all, that smiles through my tears and nods gently within me.
I see it in others, too. Itís like the glow that sometimes shines through someoneís face when they smile. Itís a quiet word, or maybe a gesture, that shows an unexpected presence in someone, a grasping of truth, or beauty, or goodness, that makes me turn to look at them more carefully. Itís my own tear that I see falling down someone elseís cheek. Itís a phrase in a poem, startling in its utter simplicity, that opens my mind to a larger reality. Itís an image so beautiful that I want to cry.
This something is not just an ability to perceive, say, truth, beauty or goodnessóalthough certainly that is revealed, as wellóitís a welling up, a manifestation, of those universal values in some form or other. I am totally comfortable with the idea that it is part of each of us. Or perhaps, as some have put it, each of us is a part of it. It doesnít always make itself known. Nor its source. It simply appears, at times, a subtle but profound force.
So I think it is always there. It may be hidden by activity or by emotion or by desire or aversion or illusion. And those things in me may prevent me from seeing it in others, as well. Thatís why I call it sleeping beauty. Iíd like to believe that it will awaken . . .
. . . when I am ready.
June 24, 2004