Posts Tagged: writing challenge

explore beauty – a challenge

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.

What is beautiful to you?  I challenge you to explore it:

Find 101 examples of beauty, and show, tell, list or write them.  Photographs, songs, poems, paintings, crafts – however it is you tell your story. 

There is no timeframe, because the number target may seem high to you.  (It won’t for long – trust me.)  And modify the challenge to suit you.  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. 

Feel free to grab the badge below 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. 

Exploring Beauty 
Why 101 things?  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. 

If you do take part, be sure to let me know (as well as the tag or category you’ll use, if you wish) and I’ll list a link to your blog on this dedicated page. 

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. 

Others Exploring Beauty

The Streaming Now

Menopausal Stoners

My Missing Life (“doing a few”)

 Right Motherhood

The Querulous Squirrel

a magpie tale about a real find

This is a response to Willow's second Magpie Tales creative writing prompt.  Stop in, give it a whirl!  And check out all of the great stories by the other participants. 


He didn’t go looking for it.  The reason he went up to the attic in the first place was to find those old maps of his grandfather's.  And certainly he wouldn’t have found it if he had just taken the maps from the chest and gone back downstairs.  But he got poking through the box, looking through the other mementos there.  He became absorbed in his imagination, eavesdropping on another life in another place and time.  He was certain there was another box of photographs that had belonged to his grandfather.  He would find it and take it downstairs and look at them over the weekend. 

The third box in his search for the photos turned up what looked to be another collection of memorabilia.  A stack of letters was stuffed into small shopping bag.  Several tiny boxes, half burnt candles, a silk scarf, some postcards.  Intrigued, he sat down to have a look.  He didn’t remember anything about this box; they must be items that belonged to her family, though she’d never mentioned it. 

The small boxes contained pieces of jewellery.  Some rings and a gold chain – neither of which looked very old he thought.  Another box held some pieces that had a vintage look to them.  She loved that stuff, and wondered why she left it closed up in a box in the attic.  Maybe she’s never looked through the contents of this box and didn’t even know they were here.  He set the pieces aside and enjoyed the thought of the pleasure she would get in his find.

The items were collected from travels.  There was a menu from Le Templier de Montmartre in Paris.  A box of matches from Hotel Forum in Bratislava.  There were train schedules from Vienna, Prague and Berlin.  The two of them had dreamed often of European train travel; why hadn’t she told him about this box?  He couldn't for the life of him imagine who in her family might have collected these things.  None of them were adventurous – certainly not the romantic train journeys in Europe sorts!  He snickered at the thought of one of her staid old aunts having a secret past life of romance and adventure!

Little leather bound journals were stacked together in one corner.  He picked one up and flipped through it and read details of dinners and walks and conversations with new friends.  She must have inherited this handwriting, it was remarkably like hers.

He fingered a silk scarf and brought it to his nose.  It didn’t smell musty.  It smelled faintly but distinctly of her. 

His stomach lurched a warning as he reached down and picked up the letters.  The first was addressed to her at a post office box.  The postmark was only a few months old.  He sifted through them, hands shaking – they were all written to her, more than ten years of letters she kept hidden from him. 

Several hours later he had not moved – frozen as he read of his wife’s secret life through her lover’s eyes.  Those years of business trips to London, those annual holidays with the girls; how could she have lied so naturally?  How could she have avoided wearing that lie all over her face? 

He opened the box of matches and lit one, watching it burn as he tried to control his shock.  He looked up and saw her standing there watching the truth live in face as the light flickered across it.   When the flame crawled down and burned his thumb he dropped it into the box without taking his eyes from the ashen-faced stranger before him.