“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,
we must carry it with us, or we find it not.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
As I’m writing this, it’s just past dawn and the cardinals are singing. There’s a myriad of things right in front of me where I could place my attention: the occasional prop plane, the distant rumble of the freight train, the coo of doves, and when things become quiet, the sound of palms bending in the breeze. My focus changes and I’m suddenly struck by the beauty of dewdrops hanging heavily in the mosquito screens, capturing the morning light and becoming infused with a rainbow of color. Yet, I could have just as easily looked down at the patio and see the staining left behind from spilled fertilizer or the fence trim needing repair. I choose to appreciate and note the light, the birds, the early morning beauty, and despite their presence, give less focus to planes, trains, stains, or needed repairs.
Of course, this selective placement of attention changes nothing in fact. It does however change my felt experience of the facts. As a lover of beauty, focusing in on little transitory moments of sweetness, feeds me. Focusing on stains left behind on the stonework, of which at this point I can do nothing about, drains me. So as a practice, whenever I can, I pull back, become present, and allow my eyes to perceive the beauty which is right in front of me. Because this has become a trained habit, my focus now naturally falls upon that which soothes my soul– if I just soften enough to allow it.
“Whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your own soul.”
How do we “carry” the seeing and appreciation of beauty? It begins by deciding to see it. This is a choice; a place of will. If you make this choice, and apply yourself to it, you’ll realize the beautiful, the sublime, the sweet, the lovely, has been there all along just waiting to be noticed. It exists; whether seen by us or not. Some majestic sights endure through the ages (mountain ranges, Cathedrals/Monasteries, rocky coastlines, etc.), other moments are ephemeral, fleeting (rain showers, a butterfly alighting on a bloom, sunsets after a storm, etc.). The proportion of felt, positive impact of this practice in your life is directly correlated with the frequency/receptivity of allowing beauty in.
¨Everything that is made beauty and fair and lovely is made for the eye of the one who sees it¨
In this world filled with calamity, divisiveness, judgment, and pain, are you willing to become a Radical Seer of Beauty? Are you willing to use your free will to notice the amazing bark on a tree, see the refraction of light on a living room floor, or watch the belly of a baby/pet rise and fall sweetly in sleep? It is a momentary inner switch to do this, but once done, the rest is effortless. That’s because beauty feeds those who join with it. Finding inspiration is a radical act and choice. It will color your day and world; filling you up when empty and drained. Take time this day, and the coming days that you can, to see and become in concert with beauty. Allow it to work its magic upon your heart and soul. May it soften the hard edges, and open up places which have become closed.