Beauty on Its Own Terms

Beautiful and Spectacular (sawdevcin / Flickr)

I walked for over 2 hours today, mostly with my head pointed to the sky. I couldn’t take my eyes off the leaves.

It has actually been a dull autumn here in Massachusetts. Most of the leaves are going directly from green to brown, and the flaming red colors are almost absent. We are left with the more subdued hues.

Beautiful and Subtle (Nat Nunn / Flickr)

Yet, I was amazed at how beautiful they all are when taken on their own terms. I would look at some leaves against the sky and if I initially thought the colors were dull I would look a little longer until I entered into the spirit of that particular color combination. When I saw it for what it was rather than wanting it to be something else, it was gorgeous.

Better yet, it offered a mood I had not been seeking. I came across a large, fallen branch whose leathery leaves had turned a dark, reddish brown. The branch itself was a dark grey. It was dead. Boring, right? So I thought … until I had looked at it long enough to realize that the colors were right out of Edgar Allan Poe. When I received them as they were, they were just as exciting as the yellows and reds you see on New England postcards.

I was feeling good about my aesthetic appreciation when I realized: Why don’t I feel this way about people?

What’s to keep me from appreciating each person on his or her own terms, rather than expecting them to be someone else? If someone has a personality quirk that could be irritating, why not appreciate that little tile in the fascinating human mosaic for what it is? Why not marvel at the miracle of sentient, human life in all its forms?

I’ll be working on that….

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