Beth Hautala

Children's Author


On Dissonance and Sunrise

Writing is a way to process externally, I think. To sort and sift, weigh and wrestle, and sometimes to alter outcomes. I write as I want the world to be. As I want me to be. I want a better beginning, a better middle than the one reality often offers. I want a better end.

The human heart craves answers. 

This shouldn't come as a shock, but somehow it felt profound to me this week. 
We long for resolution in all things.

In music, our ears beg for harmony. Please, never hang me on a diminished chord! It's too ambiguous. Eerie. Unsatisfied. Tonal instability—dissonance—leaves me standing on tiptoe waiting for that final note. 

In stories I look for the same thing. For arc—beginning, middle, end. I search for repeated themes that gain meaning as I approach the final chapter. I delight in character growth and change. I am unbelievably satisfied when the author ties up every last lose end.

Every effect has a cause.
A struck match. 
A lightbulb moment. 
Just reading those phrases makes something inside of me nod. I understand this. I get it. I need this. 

We all do.

And so when it doesn't happen, I'm left on that proverbial cliff, hanging over the edge by my fingernails. Sometimes I manage to scrape and scrabble back up over the edge, and I lay there, panting and exhausted. Other times I lose my grip and fall. That endless fall of nightmares.

I don't recall ever learning these things. But I must have, somewhere along the way. Because tucked inside me—in that stretch of space between head and heart—I know darkness comes before the dawn. I know if I wait long enough, I'll see the sun rise. 

The world doesn't need one more commentary, one more blog post, one more rant about the most recent cause of our nation's shock and grief. My words—thrown into the ever-growing jumbled pile, are no more useful than an inadequate condolence from the lips of a stranger. I don't have answers to the whys, and grief doesn't respond to reason anyway. Nor rage. In fact, grief doesn't respond at all. For a time, it just is.

All I know, is that I can't tell the sun to paint the sunrise with only colors of my choosing. I don't get to tilt the earth and change the designated hour it crests the horizon. I can't restrict the length, breadth, and reach of shadows. But I can refuse to stand in them. And when they touch me anyway, I can turn my face, my heart, my whole self to the Light at that break of day.

"But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercy is new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in Him." 
—Lamentations 3:21-24