As the light gained pace this morning, I sat on the porch looking at the roof-lines of nearby houses and thought, not for the first time, that where there is a straight line, there also is man.
In the woods or mountains, nature creates straight lines casually -- it's just one of the possibilities, and so is not often seen. But elsewhere, man creates straight lines for ... for security and profit, I imagine.
Mathematically, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line ... or anyway, I think I remember memorizing that in some math class. Straight lines are efficient and carry with them a whiff of perfection. There is no distraction or imperfection. Nothing sticks to a straight line. It is pristine.
Which is why, I think, people like the Mona Lisa ... the crooked, quirky smile brings savor and irregularity and life to what otherwise might be (metaphorically) straight or symmetrical. The eye longs to fall in love and it is hard to fall in love with straight lines and coiffed symmetry.
And yet we can work at it pretty hard -- falling in love with symmetries. Jobs, relationships, spiritual endeavors, possessions -- don't we work pretty hard to find the straight-edged container that will bring a symmetrical peace to what can be an irrepressible asymmetry ... our lives?
A symmetrical, straight-edged peace, a peace over which we have control, a peace that comes when we whistle, a peace that will hold what is unpeaceful at arm's length. I suppose that such efforts fall under the heading of banging-your-head-against-a-wall-because-it-feels-so-good-when-you-stop. Not that there isn't something to be learned from all the straight-edged efforts, but rather that it simply doesn't work. What is asymmetrical may be confusing, but it contains sass and juice and makes the eye fall in love.
And in the end, even the straight lines of a symmetrical peace is nothing more than another asymmetry, another Mona Lisa smile, another reason to enjoy yourself.
Or anyway, that's what I imagine.