Does beauty even need to have a purpose? We all know that being in nature and appreciating our surroundings is a wonderful tonic for the soul. And that gazing upon beautiful objects, whether man-made or created by nature, can bring about a sense of awe and wonder; it can both calm and stimulate our mind at the same time.
Looking at beautiful things can certainly energise, motivate and inspire us to create beautiful objects of our own. When Cezanne was asked why he chose to paint the same scene many times. His response was that he wanted to immerse himself in the beauty of the landscape; that he connected more deeply to life through the act of painting. So the painting itself was only a product of this activity – the real purpose being that painting allowed him to explore the inner landscape of his own soul.
We all know the saying: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We use our senses to connect to beauty, so through beauty we are able to connect to our own emotions, and we can also use beauty to connect to life itself. There is beauty all around us, only if we care to look. However, can beauty also have a purpose? Can we use aspects of beauty to enhance our daily lives, and if so – how might we do so?
We can use the word beauty to describe the form or structure of an object – from artful simplicity to elegant complexity. From mathematics, to biology, physics and chemistry – there is beauty to be found in all the sciences. There is beauty in finding clever solutions to problems which might have challenged us for some time. There is also beauty in a single dandelion plant as it struggles to take root in a broken pavement. The bright yellow perfection of its petals, open in response to the bright sunshine. It does none of this for our own benefit – it is only being a dandelion, taking in the energy from the sun to enable it to continue its own life. But we can appreciate its struggle and acknowledge the beauty of its form as it does so.
Consider how we feel when in the middle of a commute home after a long and challenging day at work – it’s dusk and we look up and out of the windscreen to see the beginning of a wonderful sunset – the pinks, yellows, reds and purples – the sky positively glows and for a moment we are uplifted from the mundane activity of being caught in traffic… Beauty helps us to transcend the ordinary, it can be uplifting and help bring us back to the present moment. If we take the time to actively look for beauty all around us, then in seeing beauty, we can also experience joy, wonder, awe and maybe even curiosity – we certainly experience appreciation and gratitude for being able to witness such beauty – and in doing so it often leaves a lasting impression upon us.
So beauty can give our life meaning, it can evoke an emotional response, it can inspire us and it can make us feel humble. We can have many responses to beauty – joy, awe, curiosity, gratitude, love… One of my favourite tools to help me live in the present moment, is to deliberately look for joy and to look for beauty in every-thing and where-ever I am – while walking, or driving, and even in ordinary human interactions. All you need to do is to look up, to look out; to notice - use all your senses to appreciate life in this present moment. The act of doing so can create space and more peace in your life – so thanks be to beauty – I am certainly truly grateful for its presence…
If you want some help to find the joy and beauty in your life then give me a call!