Sometimes you hear a voice through the door calling you, As a fish out of water hears the waves… Come back, Come back. This turning toward what you deeply love saves you.
Turning to beauty in troubling times is not a weakness. We can look for something transcendent amidst suffering and pain — it doesn’t mean we’re trying to hide from reality. It means we’re trying to experience the full scope of reality.
We turn to beauty so that we can come back to awareness of the true unbroken nature of being. Beauty helps us connect to the sublime. It’s cathartic.
Numbing is not the same thing as moving towards beauty. Numbing is about self-annihilation. Numbing is about trying to suppress some parts of our experience that we want to reject. Numbing is a route to disconnection.
Moving towards beauty is about connection, not about disconnection.
There’s a subtle (but crucial) difference between numbing and moving towards beauty. Sometimes the line between the two is blurry and they can get intertwined. But we can often figure out the difference if we’re paying attention.
For instance — listening to a song that moves you on an emotional level is probably a way of moving towards beauty. On the other hand — eating a full box of Triscuits when you weren’t even hungry and didn’t want to eat a full box of Triscuits, is probably numbing. It’s a personal favourite of mine, but it’s probably numbing.
But you know, maybe eating a slice of apple pie with ice cream could be a way of moving towards beauty. It’s, of course, subjective. Do you feel equanimity afterward? Do you feel transcendence? Do you feel a release? And do you feel okay the next morning? Was it connecting? It’s not for someone else to decide what’s numbing for you and what’s moving towards beauty. It’s about what it feels like for you, experientially.
We need beauty in our lives. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. There are no prerequisites for beauty. You can close your eyes and breathe deeply — if you’re present with the breath while you do so, that’s a moment of beauty.
A good laugh is always a moment of beauty — unless you’re punching way down.
It can feel like we’re not allowed to experience beauty when there is pain in the world. But that’s not true. We need beauty more than ever when there is pain. Through beauty, we can return to presence and to a deeply felt sense of being alive.
We still have to do what’s necessary in order to survive. Everything else is still fully real and it all matters and we should act accordingly. But beauty matters too — it connects us back to the deepest part of ourselves and we need it. Luckily, beauty hasn’t gone away.