“We humans need beauty as much as air. Without it we exist only to survive and procreate (our genes, or our ideas, or our beliefs, or our portfolios). In a world driven to mere efficiency, we are in grave danger of forgetting this. We see the results of our forgetfulness at every turn: addictive behaviors, massive greed, devastating cruelty—the symptoms of soul death.” – James Flaherty
Needing beauty is a novel idea. For so many of us, beauty feels a luxury, with its many definitions and assumed price tags. When I read James’ words I found so much purpose in this every day pursuit.
How rebellious it is to sit and type, reflecting on the good when we should be out there producing, consuming, or creating opportunities.
What if this effort of looking for good, for holy, for beautiful things could help heal us?
My thesis stands.
And still, I struggle to focus on what could be good rather than be sucked in by what isn’t going great.
I sat in an office with a stranger yesterday, after nervously shaking a new connection’s hand. Is it rude to whip out hand-sanitizer after first greeting someone? Probably. How long will I be anxious from simply sharing air?
As our conversation shifted away from real estate and towards the olympics, my new friend paused, with tears in her eyes, and recounted the stories of kindness, empathy, and connection from athletes over the last two weeks. “People don’t really hate each other as much we are led to believe,” she said.
I vascilate between despair and hope on a daily basis. Photos of children wearing water wings and playing on beaches in front of skies brown with smoke from fires sear their images into my eyeballs. We’ve got work to do.
And then, I read reminders like Mr. Flaherty’s and remember, if we don’t look for beauty, surely we will forget.
The sun came up today and worms wriggled in the puddles on my porch.
Tiny bubbles burst in glasses of carbonated water.
Children visiting our offices stop and stare, in wonder, at the stylized super hero posters hanging on the wall.
The call for compassion is ever present.
We can give money, ride a bike, or call a friend.
All quiet. Not as insistent as the updates on my phone, breaking news, or climbing numbers of cases.
When trying to find a photo of air, I came up short. But its presence is all around us, sustaining life.
Perhaps the same is true of beauty. May its presence be as natural as your body’s next inhale.
Connection and appreciation can be found when we create it. What a beautiful thing.
If you’re needing some support in looking for the good, consider this aesthetic invitation to wonder and awe from The Mindful Leader.