Practices of Looking – Part Two – If Beauty is Changing Us, We’d Better Pay Attention

In the previous post, I shared that a philosophical look at beauty could show that we are, individually and collectively, changed by beauty. I also shared that beauty, quite literally, changes the world. If you have not read, part one, please take a quick peek.


     If what I thought was beautiful was determining what I chose to eat, and wear, and encounter, I figured I better pay attention. And if others were saying that a person, a piece of artwork, or a film was interesting or captivating, (otherwise known as beautiful), then I better pay attention to that, too. Because even if I didn’t personally find it moving, or even healthy, that form of media had the power to change my world on a very practical level. From the color paint that was available to be slathered on my walls, to the design of the cars I would sit in, to the stories that would become part of my soul and the souls of those I loved, beauty mattered.

The more I looked, the more I realized that what was deemed beautiful — from kitchen gadgets to human relationships to religious and cultural expressions –is our human story. Beauty was developing the narration of what one day would be our history. It was creating new traditions, ideas, expectations, and forms of expression. And unlike the generations that came before us, our story was changing far more rapidly than most of us could grapple with. Realizing this, I did what every control freak would do: I developed a process of tracking beauty.

The trouble is that in order to find beauty, you have to slow down enough and remove your own judgement and criticisms long enough to ask: What are people responding to exactly? And what in them connects with that image or storyline? And why does it matter? And those, my friends, those are not questions that have quick answers. Those are questions that take a steady, patient soul, who is willing to listen and to learn. I know, because I have been easily irritated at this practice of looking. If you try this, you will find our just how opinionated you are, and just how much your worldview colors how you see everything.

I can bore you with opinions about what I saw and what I think it means, but I’m not going to. What I am going to tell you is that deliberately seeking out beauty opens your eyes to a different reality. In essence, you get to see what no one will ever tell you, but what’s driving them forward. And, if you’re really lucky, you get to change your own decision making process, too.

If recognizing beauty could do all this, maybe beauty is not just a concept. Maybe beauty is a movement, originating from a source, and someone was in control of the story. And maybe beauty then was a form of a gift from that person/being, who obviously really cares about us. And, if that’s true, then maybe our creations were some kind of communication with that source. It was our way of hearing and responding to something greater than us.

Because, it seems that Beauty seems to be both what allows us to move forward, and what allows us to stay in the present. It is the food and drink that nourishes us, and we simply cannot live without it. If that’s so, then making space for beauty becomes an essential practice. And if we needed beauty, and we might also need the source of that beauty. That’s where I’ll pick up next time.

To be continued….





One thought on “Practices of Looking – Part Two – If Beauty is Changing Us, We’d Better Pay Attention

  1. Pingback: Practices of Looking – Final Edition – Making Space for Beauty | Renew Us

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