I’ve been thinking about beauty lately, because this is my purpose, to show people there is still beauty in this world, to show them how to feel again. Yet how can I do that if I don’t have a good definition of beauty. Something which has qualities which are pleasing or satisfying is too broad, it lacks definition, so I wondered how to refine this definition.
I’ve always been able to see beautiful things, even when the night is darkest, especially because the night is beautiful in its own way. I don’t know what makes me different, why I find it hard to hate, why I can’t disconnect myself enough to see the ugly.
I was looking at a photo of the night sky as I was thinking this, looking at a photo of something most would consider beautiful, yet how many monsters have people imagined living in the dark of night. What is the difference between the night in the photo and the night where monsters live? So in wondering why I couldn’t disconnect myself to hate I had my answer, or at least a part of it.
You see I think beauty is the opening of a connection to the things that please us. It is an illumination of the things we find most satisfying. When we see a photo of the stars above we feel connected to how vast the universe is, we feel connected to the light shining on the world around us. When we don’t bother to look up, when all we know is darkness we aren’t connected. The feeling of being alone and pointless, disconnected, is so overwhelming the mind finds it better to imagine monsters to be connected with than nothing at all, at least monsters give us a purpose, to run and hide.
It’s easy to find beauty in the normal things, a pretty face, an idyllic scene, and children playing. These things connect us to health, vitality, life, the world, freedom from responsibility. We understand these things subconsciously. We can’t help but look at a masterpiece and feel connected to each and every brush stroke, the creativity and imagination that went into its design. Yet there is so much more beauty in the world.
We show stories of the evil miners and their sites of devastation, so much ugly they created. Yet I can’t always see that. Sometimes I am amazed at life, how tenacious and unstoppable it is. I see the life at the edges of this ugly. I see the weeds and the grass fighting the toxic soil with the sole purpose of brining more life after it. Little by little it edges it way towards the center of the mine site, never stopping, relentless. I feel connected to the edge of these mine sites, connected to very primal nature of life. Life took this world from volcanoes and acid oceans to what we have today. It connects me to hope that what we destroy may be undone, what we tear down can be rebuilt. Is this not beautiful?
We see story after story of toxic people, ugly people, people who are different from us somehow, male or female, Muslim or Christian, black or white. They tell me I should be afraid of these people, that they will change our way of life. I don’t watch enough TV to keep track of the people I am supposed to hate next, but that’s not what I see anyway. I see a man who has walked from Ethiopia to Pakistan after the military shot his brother, I see a woman who gives an incredible amount of time to those no one listens too, I see people afraid, in love, sad, happy, hurt, alone and in leading groups. How can I not feel connected to these people, they are like me. Are they not beautiful? How can I hate what is like me, that would be like hating myself and I know I am beautiful.
I don’t know how to connect people with the beauty around them yet, how to connect them with the feelings these things invoke. I see it in everything around me; I see it in buttons, power lines, raindrops, machinery, mathematics and more. I don’t know why I can see the connections in all these things but I hope one day I can teach others how to see more in the world around them. It’s really hard to hate something you feel connected to. I’ll work it out one day but for the moment all I can do is illuminate one beautiful thing at a time and hope others can see the connections I see. I have part of my definition of beauty now, it’s a start, one small step on my journey.
Image thanks to Jason Jenkins