Thursday, October 10, 2013

A thing of beauty

Often when we think of things of beauty we think of artwork, sculpture, musical compositions, or products we have created. And there is no doubt that within each of these categories and many more, there are truly things of beauty. Nature itself offers such a variety of objects and scenes. I remember, for example, going to a hosta and lily show at the Toledo Arboretum some time ago, and while touring one of the inside show areas I could not believe the overwhelming beauty of the show pieces displayed for competition.

My sister-in-law is an artist, and we have a mounted Wood Duck that she did as an exhibit in our living room. We have a chalk drawing she did of all the members of her side of our family including each of us. Every piece or project she has completed is breathtakingly beautiful.

There is so much beauty surrounding us all the time if we just take a moment to see and appreciate it.

I left the house at around 4 a.m. the other morning to begin my jog, and when I opened the front door, the fresh, crisp, clean morning air greeted me, and I had to stop, take a deep breath, close my eyes, and just appreciate the aroma, freshness, and ambience.

There are so many other situations that have the same effect on me.

When I designed a shed to house all of our grilling equipment from a design my older son gave me (in a book of things you could make from 2 x 4s), all the parts had to be cut first and only then could the shed be constructed. So, you do the measuring, make the cuts, lay out all of the parts and then attach them together. I not only found beauty in the final product—a useful, helpful, worthwhile storage place—but I loved the way all the parts came together so precisely and accurately.

I put together a large number of lectures, speeches, and essays. I do the research, construct the outline, then write out the information word-for-word. There is a time when I arrive at a point that everything just "feels right," everything seems to be in place, and I get a sense of closure when I actually feel I have manufactured a thing of beauty—concise, focused, centered.

When I am searching for information, I will often find a quotation that perfectly and completely fits a situation. For example, right now, a quotation from Christopher Morley serves that purpose well: "In every man’s heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty." Perfect! Beautiful!

The question, then, becomes a simple one: What are those things that cause my pulse to shake, quiver, and tremble? It can happen in the strangest places.

A vibration of beauty occurred when I had completed a repair job of our snowblower. It was leaking gas, so I ordered a plastic gas tank, spent several hours removing the plastic top of the snowblower, then the plastic tubing that connected to the tank. The leak was actually in one of the tube connections. The tubing had split. It was a thing of beauty when I had it all re-assembled, pulled the starter handle, and the mower started in one pull, and it never leaked again.

When we lived in Hawaii it was truly unusual to have beauty all around us. We went to several botanical gardens, and the lush landscapes, brilliant flowers, and unusual plants startle the imagination—and yet it is all so real.

Traveling to Jasper and Banff (the Canadian Rockies) out among the mountains, every time you turn a corner in the road, a new, fresh postcard seems to present itself.

When we traveled in upstate New York, the AuSable Chasm is the spectacular gorge that has been cut by the River.

On each of our cruise adventures, we have been exposed to true things of beauty. On our very first cruise (February, 2000) it was the ship itself, the Grand Princess, that was the primary thing of beauty. We had never been so close to such a large ship much less onboard one. And all the amenities—the lobby and elevators, the carpeting throughout, the massive dining-room areas, and the cafeteria were sights to behold!

Our second cruise was to the Panama Canal on the Sun Princess with Edgar and Zella Willis, my wife’s parents (January-February, 2002). The Panama Canal is a thing of beauty, and it wasn’t just moving through the locks to Lake Gatun, it was all the information we received about how they worked, given to us over a loudspeaker while out on deck watching it all work.

Our third cruise, with Celebrity on a ship called the Zenith (February, 2005) was to the Southern Caribbean. First, it was our self-guided tour of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Second, our stops in St. Kitts, St. Thomas, Granada, and Barbados. This was our first trip with the Alambre Trio (a singing group from the Phillippines) who learned a song just for us: "All I Have to Do is Dream" to which we did the cha-cha. The Trio is a thing of beauty! After Barbados, we went to Saint Maarten and Saint Martin (same island, two countries), and Cocoa Key. When you travel by cruise ship, take excursions on the islands, the things of beauty you experience never cease.

Our fourth cruise, on Celebrity’s Horizon, to Bermuda (July, 2005). Since we’d ben to Bermuda previously, our thing of beauty on this cruise was, once again, the Alambre Trio.

Our fifth cruise was "The Great Rivers of Europe" with Grand Circle, and the storybook-like European towns (e.g., Passau, Regensberg, and Wertheim, Germany), the 66 locks we traversed, the Melk Abbey, and the sights along the rivers (the Danube, Main, and Rhine) were things of beauty.

Cruise #6, Alaska’s Inside Passage, offers things of beauty all along the route, just as our Mediterranean cruise (cruise #8) offered them at every port-of-call (Barcelona, the French Riviera, Florence, Rome, Greece, Istanbul, Mykonos, Snatorini, and Venice) and on each excursion. Our cruise #10 was similar—things of beauty at every stop: Bangkok, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Nha Trang, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taipei, Taiwan, Okinawa, Japan, Shanghai, China, and Beijing, China—almost more things of beauty than a single mind can digest and appreciate.

Every stop on cruise #11, our South American adventure, offered places of beauty including Rio de Janeiro, Montavideo, Uruguay, Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Falkland Islands, Cape Horn and the glaciers, Puenta Arenas, Chile, Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, and Santiago, Chile. We experienced extraordinary beauty, too, on our trip to the Normandy area of France and at Versailles and all the sites in and around Paris.

If your goal is to see and appreciate things of beauty, you can begin appreciating that which surrounds you everyday, but if you want an onslaught of such things, travel. You will quickly discover, once you assume this new perspective, is that beauty in things lies in the mind which contemplates them—a second quotation that is a thing of beauty!

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At HubPages , there is a wonderful essay, "Photography Tips—Finding Beauty in Mundane Things." four specific tips for finding beauty. The author begins this essay saying, "When I started my photography adventures after retirement, I would always go out to my garden and take pictures of almost anything that I find there. Since I have a very small garden, most of my pictures were that of flowers, insects, raindrops and anything that catches my fancy. However, during times that the rain is too heavy for raindrops photos, I would wander inside the house and look for something to focus my camera on. That’s when I learned to focus on mundane things and find beauty in them. So how do we find beauty in mundane things?"

At "ThinkSimpleNow" , the name of the essay is "How to Find Beauty in Life," and Jonathan Mead offers readers three ways for seeing things differently: 1) Practice Listening, 2) Practice Non-Judgment, and 2) Open Your Heart. There are nine tips for daily living, and Mead closes by saying: "It’s through space that air fills your lungs. It’s through space that your body moves. It’s through space in the vibration of the air that sound is heard. It’s in the gaps between veins that blood flows. Without the space between these letters, there would be no words for you to read -it would all be incoherent.

In this way, you realize something—Emptiness truly roars. Silence speaks. Space gives birth to form. It’s in the gaps that beauty is found."

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Copyright October, 2013, by And Then Some Publishing LLC


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