Ripples #1229: Looking for Beauty


If you seek some special life outside of daily activities,
that is like brushing aside waves to look for water.
-Wu-Chun, shared by Jason in Liberty Township


Look around you.
What is the first beautiful thing you see?
Look around again.
What else is beautiful?
Commit to looking for beauty.
You will find it.
-Karen Jandorf, shared by Karen in Oakland, CA via Peace on the Inside


I’m not gonna lie: whenever I’m in New York and have time to visit the Museum of Modern Art, my number one priority is spending quality time with my very, very favorite painting: Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. Same thing with Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte at the Chicago Art Institute: I stare at it at least as long as Ferris Bueller did. A few months ago Jamie and I visited the St. Louis Art Museum and it was a Mark Rothko painting that captured my attention and unleashed my awe.

For most of us, it is a natural and understandable to focus first on that which we’ve deemed the *most* beautiful. I think the trick is to activate what we students of improv refer to as our “Yes, and” so that we can look beyond and look around and see what else is out there waiting to be noticed and appreciated.

The idea is to find the next beautiful thing and exclaim, “Ooh that’s beautiful, too!” Pause long enough to really take it in, and then ask again, “What ELSE around here is beautiful?” By the time I leave most art museums, I’ve not only overloaded myself on the many paintings and sculptures, I’ve noticed the beauty in the architecture, the decor, the food…even the joyous beauty unleashed by the remarkable human beings who happen to be around me on that particular day.

There’s a 3-minute Jason Silva video that always rewakens in me what he calls our “responsibility to awe.” Every time I watch it, I’m a little better at noticing not just the big, obvious beautiful works of art that I encounter, but also the very ordinary loveliness that is hiding in plain sight, full of beauty and worthy of our awe.

I heartily endorse the invitation Karen Jandorf offers us in today’s Boulder, and I hereby recommit to looking for beauty this week. I dare you to join me in looking around a little more to notice: what else is beautiful?

P.S. You’re beautiful, too.

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