Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Beauty is Not Optional

Beauty is not optional, but it is often crowded out by the day-to-day activities that make up our lives. We are pressed by things that are important in the moment, but not of import. Getting to work on time is important in the moment. Noticing beauty in our lives is of import.

If we are not deliberate in our lives, we may miss out on much of the beauty that could come our way. Beauty comes to us in many ways if we are aware — a smile, an article, watching the evening sun go down and noticing the firey red clouds, the touch of a good friend — these moments of beauty are all around us if we are not distracted by other things.

The following poem expresses this thought beautifully...

If I had time to find a place
And sit me down full face to face
With my better self, that cannot show
In my daily life that rushes so:
It might be then I would see my soul
Was stumbling still toward the shining goal;
I might be nerved by the thought sublime —
If I had the time!
-Richard Burton

Muslih-uddin Sadi, a sheik who lived more than 720 years ago, wrote the following verse entitled Gulistan

If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft
And from thy slender store two
loaves alone to thee are left
Sell one and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed the soul.

That which is beautiful truly does feed our souls.

Terry Tempest Williams, a noted Utah author, was in New York City to see the editor of the New Yorker Magazine. To help break the ice, she had purchased some flowers for the editor. It was very cold as she walked down 43rd Street and caught sight of a woman who was sitting on the subway grate wrapped in a blanket with only her eyes showing and those eyes were focused on the flowers. Terry didn't give the flowers to the woman because that would be patronizing, but in the next block, she found a flower shop and went in and bought some big yellow mums and went back to the woman. As she handed the mums to her, the woman said: "I am eating, but nobody gives me food for my soul – beauty is not optional."

Given this, I was fascinated with the social experiment put on by the Washington Post in April 2007. You can read about it in the article Pearls Before Breakfast. It's a fairly long read, but well worth the time.

And watch the video from YouTube below:


Anonymous said...
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boisegrammy said...

This is one thing your dad feels passionate about. Both he and I have given talks on it. We tend to hurry our lives away oblivious of the beauty around us. We truly need to slow down and take the time to appreciate the beauty of both our world and the talents of those who inhabit it.