A couple of things made my day. Mostly it was meeting up for a late Sunday afternoon pub visit with my girls. It made the harsh return of winter substantially less harsh.
Then tonight I came across this. I bet you five dollars it makes you smile. Ukelele beauty. Thing 21 of 101.
You know, certain parts of most of my days are focused on me getting above ground again. This video made me think about the coming above ground part. I should always view it as rising to the new, and to not expect. Like a goldfish?
(This video encouraging me to see like a goldfish: beautiful thing seventeen.)
Thirteen: Today’s sunshine. It’s above O°C, for starters, and that is always a bloody beautiful day this time of year. But the sun – whooo boy do we need it. I take vitamin D supplements but there’s an extra dose of something in that sunshine – like some secret vitamin that worms its way through your pores and bones and finds its way to your soul.
But it’s more than that today – the sun is different today. It's closer, more present. I could feel it enveloping me down there on the ground, as opposed to just shining down and filtering its way through the blanket of winter. It’s as if spring is hovering at the door deciding whether to come in. I say come on in Spring – you’re never more beautiful than you are when you’re hovering at the door.
Fourteen: This post by Steve. My friend – women everywhere are going to be jealous of your beached goddess. Finding wonder in long-established love, what could be more beautiful?
Fifteen: This cookbook, which I bought on the weekend. I have to make myself not buy cookbooks; I could sit and look at them forever. But I allowed myself this one because I buy the magazine often and I justified the cookbook thinking that instead of buying the magazine every month, I would buy this at the cost of less than two issues. (Who am I kidding? It’s a beautiful magazine.)
These days I'm particularly enamoured with cookbooks featuring natural, unprocessed food. Natural food is of the most beautiful gifts this planet shares with us, and meals that are simply and lovingly prepared from it is more beauty for the soul. This winter I’m in love with food more than I’ve ever been – maybe it was my way of enduring embracing the winter months. When my television is on, it’s on Food Network most of the time – when I'm not cooking and eating, I'm watching somebody else cooking and eating.
Recently I had to put a moratorium on kitchen activities because I had too many things saved in the freezer for my lunches and dinners. I’ve used it up and am rocking the kitchen again. Last night I made Turkey Chili Taco Soup and I’m counting down the minutes until lunchtime so I can eat it.
Sixteen: How I feel when I do yoga. My body is not a lot of things. But it continues to be flexible and bendy and for that I feel fortunate, because the little bit of heaven I feel at the end of a yoga session is something you just can’t bottle. I’m so ready for serious some outside action again, but in the meantime, daily yoga makes me happy – and beautiful.
Aristotle and I
would probably argue at the dinner table
about what constitutes
beauty he said
is represented in
and pour us another glass of wine
he sounds a little uptight
beauty I say
old more often than new
odd more than even
irregular not regular
free flow over precise
spontaneous rather than meticulous
or at least it seems that way
imperfections are marks
but you know
there’s been a lot of water under the bridge
philosophized about stuff
would he still define
order, symmetry, definiteness
as those things that give
pleasure and satisfaction
I have been taken with the concept of beauty for a long time. Not idealized, contrived beauty – but the kind of beauty that has layers of meaning contained within it, and that meaning a different thing for each person that experiences it.
If beauty can be described as some kind of quality in a thing, place, idea or person that causes an experience of pleasure, satisfaction or even transcendence for its beholder, is beauty then something representing a fulfilment – partial or all – of some sort of need in us?
I have been transformed by beauty a number of times in my life, and because of that I feel, without a trace of doubt, that beauty is related to the spiritual nature of us – to the magic in our existence. I wrote about that once or twice last year during the time I was taking part in a 30 Days of Beauty challenge put out there by Erin at her (very beautiful) Bluebirdbaby blog. Hers was a photography challenge, but I adapted it to fit into my own way of expressing and mostly wrote about finding beauty in those 30 days. It turned out to be one of the most prolific and popular periods of my online writing experience. And it did what it was intended to do – lift me above the mire of winter.
So what is it you find beautiful? Based on what I know of most of my faithful friends here in blogland, it’s not going to be that pretty pop star whose photo was manipulated to “perfection” for the cover of Rolling Stone. I could look at Bob Dylan’s face and find mountains more beauty than I can in hers. But that’s me. My definition of beauty is formed by where I came from, my ideals, my age, my interests, my education – and my needs. What about you? What defines beauty in your world?
I find old train tracks beautiful. And forgotten corners of cottage yards. And broken down old sheds. And my mother’s hands. The way a little kid darts around his father repeating “Da-a-d…?” as they walk toward the Air Canada Center to the hockey game. Or the stunning gradation of the sky as it was the other night – from breathtaking orange to the deep royal blue housing that delicate sliver of a crescent moon. Or Santana’s rendering of Soul Sacrifice at Woodstock. The soft traces of humming I hear coming from the woman with the beatific smile who sits on the other side of my office cubicle. The bowl on my table filled with sweet potatoes, beets, Bosc pears, an acorn squash and some bulbs of garlic – a haul from the market last week. Giant ropes coiled on the decks of ships.
So here I am in February again. I could do with a dose of creative healing and I if last year’s exploration was any indication, another beauty challenge is what my psyche needs. Kind of like my body and soul needing that big steaming bowl of Phở at lunchtime yesterday. Hell, just writing these past two paragraphs made me feel good. Since Erin decided not to issue the challenge again this year (going with another wonderful idea instead), I’m doing an explore beauty challenge of my own, and I’d love it if you joined me.
You may not be mired in any deep dark winter. Maybe you’re in summer, or whatever season it is it’s your happiest time of year and beauty is falling all over you at every step. I’m inviting you to do it anyway. Maybe you’re not a blogger. Who cares? I dare you to write 1-101 on a piece of paper and take it with you wherever you go.
The challenge is simply this:
Find 101 examples of beauty, and show, tell, list or write them. Photographs, poems, paintings, crafts – however it is you tell your story.
I’m dispensing with the timeframe because the number target may seem high. Do it once a week and it could become an ongoing topic for a year. Find a few things a day, the project could last a month. Sit down for a few hours and you could finish a list in one go! Maybe you’re not ready just now. Or maybe you are stumbling across this challenge six months from now. Any time is a good time to start.
I’m creating a badge and a dedicated page for the challenge (stay tuned). You can grab the badge and put in your sidebar if you like, as a reminder of where to find inspiration in an uninspired or down period. And that, really, is the point. Where the doldrums take over – finding beauty brings inspiration back.
Why 101? I just like odd numbers better than even ones. It’s only a number and who knows, maybe the term “101” will just be a symbolic sort of thing, representing “my collection” or “my exploration.” I just know that for me, it’s a topic I need to return to time and time again, and I’m hoping it will turn into something of an extended exploration here. After all – it’s really beauty that I’m searching for in Realia every day. I'd venture to say it's what we're all looking for.