[Contrast Alert] This reflection is of quite a different nature than what I’ve posted previously… reader beware!
I’m composing this “episode” having just returned from watching Beauty and the Beast with my daughter. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and our time together—on many levels (I recommend you watch the movie in 3D on a big screen)!! This reflection emerged as I messed with the title of the movie and how I interpreted the story. At one level, it was about Beauty and the Beast, two very distinct and separate characters. And on another, it was about Belle (the “Beauty”) seeing beauty in the Beast. That inner beauty was there all along… it just took some time and willingness to see beyond the ugliness that allowed it to become visible.
Okay, stay with me here… I’m about to take a slight detour… but I promise to get us back to beauty and my late night theory about it in a several sentences.
We are constantly surrounded by radio waves being broadcast from dozens, if not hundreds, of radio stations. The fact we can’t hear them doesn’t mean they aren’t there. However, we need a device—a radio—to be able to tune into the specific ones we wish to hear.
Back to beauty. I’d like to extend the “tuning in” metaphor to the choice I can make in how I see my world. These days it’s easy to be unthinkingly tuned into the ugliness of the “beasts” out there. The beasts of world strife, the beasts of homelessness and poverty, the beasts of terrorism, the beasts of inequality and unfairness, the beasts of political uncertainty to the south of our borders and on our upcoming provincial election; the beasts of environmental destruction. And let’s not forget the beasts of health challenges, interpersonal conflict and fear of an uncertain future.
Depressed? Not at all . . . because I believe I can adjust my dial of attention to witness the beauty that’s everywhere if I’m just willing to make a conscious effort to tune into it. Lately I’ve been reflecting on the beauty in a rainy day, the beauty in the friendships I’ve developed over the years, the beauty in every breath I take, the beauty in being part of a family, the beauty in the music I’m listening to as I compose this post (“Officium”, by Jan Garbarek—Gregorian chant with the wail of a saxophone interweaved with haunting male voices); the beauty in my morning walks with one of our dogs, the beauty of a chance conversation with a stranger in Lighthouse Park.
Tomorrow, and for the rest of the week (might as well look at this as a pilot project for proof of concept), I intend to make a conscious effort (wow, sounds like an application of mindfulness) to look for the beauty around me in everything I do. Walking the dog, working with clients, reading the paper, driving in rush hour traffic and chatting with friends. Not to ignore the ugliness that may be out there, but choosing not to make it my primary focus. I believe seeing the beauty around me will provide nourishment and strength to thrive when the dial temporarily slips onto the “Beast” channel!
How about joining me in this experiment? Stay tuned . . . And by the way, I’d love to hear how it goes for you, too!
David Gouthro, CSP