A while back some ambitious apes figured out how to stand up straight and use abstract thought, and now deep fried Twinkies are a thing. It’s been a hell of a ride.
If you asked a human what the most amazing thing about humans is, they’d probably tell you something very humany, like “Our ability to think” or “Our capacity for self-awareness” or “Our resemblance to the White-Bearded Paternal Deity Who created us in His own image.”
If you asked an alien who’d never seen a human before what the most amazing thing about humans is, it’d probably say something like “Holy shit! Get that weird toothy fingery skin monster away from me! Kill it! Kill it before it breeds!”
If you waited for that same alien to calm down a bit and asked it the same question again, it’d probably say something a little more rational, like “The way they process electromagnetic radiation with the ocular organs in their heads,” or “The way they literally eat the life force of other organisms, pass them through a series of slimy tubes to extract the nutrients, and excrete them from their anuses.”
Humans don’t think much about the things that make them really interesting, though. They don’t think about the fact that they’re riding a spinning orb through a universe none of them actually understand, and how they get to digest their particular slice of that ride through their sensory organs and think thoughts about it, forming a nonstop explosion of dazzling appearances in their field of consciousness every single day. They think what makes them special is the fact that they have pink hair and listen to obscure European punk music from the eighties, or the fact that they have read a lot of books, or their quirky personality, or the deal they’re trying to close in Tokyo that’s going to blow everybody’s mind back at the office.
Humans have no idea how beautiful they really are. They make all different kinds of delicious foods that they’ll spend hours toiling over just to create a pleasurable experience in one another’s face holes. They build instruments with their fingery upper extremities and use them to create vibrations in the air which buzz the organs on either side of their heads in an enjoyable way. They fall in love and kiss each other’s flesh for a few years, then decide that they hate each other and never want to see each other ever again. They’ll spend their whole lives terrified of death even though they know it’s coming and they have no idea what it will be like.
Saline pours from their faces when they are experiencing intense emotions. Some of them plan their whole lives around the movements of the ancient light of stars that aren’t even there anymore, or around callous things their parents told them in brief moments of carelessness when they were very small, or around the ancient writings of long-dead men. Some of them experience life so fully and directly that they spontaneously create transcendent works of art for a few years before burning themselves out because they had to take drugs to cope with the intensity. Some of them dream and dream of doing things or going places but never do.
If humans could really, truly see each other, as if for the first time, they would fall down before one another in breathless awe and wonder at their beauty. The world would never again be the same. Never again would their thunderous majesty be obscured by irrelevant minutia. Never again would the illusion of mundaneness return.
Beauty is just another word for having truly seen something. Humans have not yet truly seen each other. We’re all walking around with our beauty hidden from each other in masks made of mental chatter and distraction, of schemes and agendas and ideologies and fears.
We can only hide from each other for so long, though. This game of hide-and-seek has a built-in ending. You are almost done counting. Come find me.
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