I was in traffic when I heard Louis Armstrong singing "What a Wonderful World" on the radio today. Curiously, I started tearing up. A couple of tears even got ripe enough to fall. I get sad a lot (like when I watch those sappy Nick Jr. cartoons with my son in the morning) but I don't usually turn on the waterworks. The "new me" is perplexing.
This song sort of threw me. My immediate thought was that I must be mourning the loss of the idea of a "wonderful" world, because surely, knowing what I know now kind of puts a damper on things. After all that has happened in my world, I'm finding it a little UN-wonderful lately. On top of the nearly 5,000 tiny Americans who legally lost their lives today, I started thinking of other terrorism and the recent scary potential of Saddam, bin Laden, and/or Kim Jong (take your pick/s). My five o'clock traffic report: "This song is untrue and stupid." I might have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for meddling lyrics that wandered my mind all over the map...
Trees of green... Ok, so green's a good color. Alright it's my favorite. I like how trees have rings that tell their age. I like to swing in the hammock and count bird's nests. I like how trees look like skeletons in winter and how you can climb them and swing on them and eat from them. I think woodpeckers are just the neatest things. They take little tiny beaks and saw through giant trees. We have them in our yard; they peck our Dogwoods to pieces. The Dogwoods are gorgeous. Their blossoms smell downright heavenly. OK, Louie, trees are cool.
Red roses... well those are pretty nice. I pretend I'm not impressed, but I am. They just take more work than I'm willing to give. My neighbor has a graveyard rose. She says it survived the environment without any special care (save for an occasional watering with tears). Roses teach us that pleasure and pain are a perfect marriage; you can't have one without the other. Handle with care or get nipped. I like the way rose petals are soft and velvety. They remind me of my mother's hands which always smelled like Rosemilk. I like the free bouquets my husband gets to take home when his band is packing up at the end of an affluent wedding. I like how I can't decide which is more beautiful: the rose or the rosebud.
Skies of blue... I like the way the blue colors of the sky sometimes graduate from lighter to darker hues like a pousse cafe. I like how birds sometimes fly so high that they look like ants in a view from the ground. I like to watch bats spiraling through the air while they chase mosquitos as the navy sky turns black. I like to watch the parachuters jumping through the blue on Saturdays as the hobbyists angle for areospace in their newly-assembled ultralights.
Clouds of white... It's charming how clouds look like cotton candy and how they are sometimes shaped like recognizable objects. My favorite clouds form buttermilk skies on windy days. I like how you can follow them across the blue canvas as they compose their pictures like giant white Colorforms. Clouds and sky... simple and wonderful.
Blessed days... The sunlight streams into the window shining rays on the floor for my bald-headed cat to wallow around in. He cracks me up; he's such a wacky sight slithering on the carpet like a backstroking snake. Sometimes I plop down next to him on the floor for a moment of sunny warmth before the foot-stomping four-year-old "terrorizes" the room with his energy and "outside voice". I love to grab my boy and tickle him under the open window as the scent of wisteria wafts in from my neighbor's Edenesque yard. We like to go over and rob her fig tree on a hot summer day. She and I make "strawberry" jam with the figs and share stories. My son swims in her pool and we make picnics on the grass in the heat of a summer afternoon.
Sacred nights... God, I love a Southern night. Crickets and tree frogs and dancing fireflies... you can close your eyes and live forever in just one moment of sweet nocturnal symphony. You can feel the ages of natural history whispering their secrets above the trickle of a nearby journeying stream. I like the blanket the darkness covers the world with. I like night's kind effort of downplaying the glaring mistakes of the day. It's a merciful indication that sleep is on its way.
Rainbows... well, who doesn't like a good rainbow (and why are there so many songs about them)?
Peoples' faces... People are so interesting. I watch them at the library or the park and wonder about their lives. Some seem so disturbingly happy while others seem hardened and sad. I secretly say prayers for the latter and hope they're ok while simultaneously scolding myself for begrudging the jocular set.
Shaking hands... I adore the way people are so cheerfully surprised when they recognize someone they know in a public arena. They hug or shake hands and they really are genuinely delighted. I ponder it, and yes, every expression DOES disclose love.
Babies...Lord, watching babies in the hospital's nursery window... is there anything more beautiful than a window full of little pink squishy-bottoms? Itty bitty huggie-butts to hold and squeeze and love! One look and you want to cradle them like an angel, protect them like a lion. They still tuck their arms and legs in wondering what kind of place it is they've suddenly been thrust into. Louis Armstrong has the answer.
Today in the car, I thought I was crying because the world pretty much sucked. It's hard to be positive when you're in a lot of pain. Though if I really believed the world sucked, I'd probably support abortion, and I don't. Corny as it sounds, this really is a wonderful world. Louie knew it and, in spite of everything, I know it too. My first child is missing out on every wonderful thing this world has to offer, and that is a source of great sorrow.