We all find beauty in different areas in life. Some may find beauty in music, art, poetry, literature, or in another person. For some of us, however, beauty may be a very ephemeral thing that we rarely experience in life. This post is for these people.
I believe lasting beauty comes from an active pursuit of it. All of us are endowed with a mind, but not all of our minds are programmed to see the beauty in all things. For example, a song can invoke joyous emotions for one, but may be seen as noise to another. A book can stimulate profound thoughts for one, but bore the hell out of another. Appreciation of something comes from the psychological and emotional understanding of that thing. But this appreciation of beauty corresponds to the amount of effort and investment one puts to it. A person may find a video game to be very uninteresting and pointless, but to a gamer who invests time into it, they are able to see its beauty through the complex strategies, artwork, and extraordinary skill it takes to become proficient in it.
From these things, I come to the idea that if a person does not actively pursue something of beauty or meaning, then they will be left void of it. This is why I find stagnation in life such an ugly experience. One of the most common responses I give when someone asks me “what I’m doing” or “what did you do this week” is “nothing”. “Nothing” is such an unfulfilling response to give for anything because it represents a lack of beauty, of meaning, of having something worthy of sharing with others.
I believe this is a very common attitude today. We live in a society always surrounded by “something”. We are always doing “something”, whether its gaming, texting, Facebooking, or working, but inside we are always filled with nothing. I think we feel this way because we are passively, rather than actively seeking beauty. I don’t blame us for doing this because this is what society teaches us. It tells us what is and what isn’t fun, exciting, sexy, and beautiful.We don’t need to actively search for these things because we are told that they’re literally at our fingertips.
We are all products of this environment. This is one reason why I think people are so depressed. We are bombarded with quick fixes of beauty that we can never fully obtain. Images of half naked bodies, fancy cars, mouth-watering foods, and Pokemon mastery have become our lives. Perfection has replaced beauty. But these are facades, mere shadows of reality! We are given a strip-tease of these things that we desire, but can never have. Is this really the life we want? To live entranced and controlled by shadows? To always be in a passive pursuit of a shadow that we’re taught to see as meaningful?
If we want to escape these shadows, we must be willing to escape our dark caves and enter into the bright and huge world of reality. This is not an easy task. Our eyes will sting as we adjust to the light, our skin will get sunburned as the rays warm our bodies, and our hearts will fear as we peer into the unknown. We will have a desire to go back to the safety of the cave, but for those who can endure the light and continue to venture out into reality, beauty starts to show her lovely face.
So my advice to you and to myself is to put down our phones, close our laptops, and go pursue beauty. Not the kind of beauty that is a quick fix, but the lasting, meaningful beauty that takes active effort, practice, dedication and pain. If you don’t know what that is, then look for it. Take a walk in the park, watch a sunset, have a meal with a friend, pick up a guitar, read a book, do something new.
I write because I find beauty in it. Writing is the way I express the beauty I see through the things I read, think about, and experience in life. I believe it is profound, meaningful, and beautiful, and I want to share it with others. However, writing isn’t easy for me. It takes an active pursuit of words and sentences that constantly escape my thoughts, but I endure the long hours because I see beauty in the process and the end product. Likewise everything that I find beautiful takes work.
A brilliant art piece takes hours of work to complete, the ability to create complex melodic riffs on a guitar takes hours of practice, a breath taking view takes miles of hiking up a mountain. This pain and effort is required and adds substance to the things we find beautiful. I leave you with these questions:
What are things, experiences, and people in your life that you find beautiful? Did you have to suffer or work hard in order to appreciate or understand it as beautiful? Does the active and continual pursuit of these things bring meaning back into life?