About Beauty

Beautiful Dancers, Great Salt Pond, Block Island. 


People take 83% of their information in through their eyes.  And if you and I became blind, our brains would rewire to reorganize our other perceptions through our visual processing centers.  No other creature sees the way we do... in our range of light, with our focus on day time rather than night time seeing.   Do you know we've been seeing this way for at least 200,000 years?   Did you know that beauty is so important that a defining characteristic of people who have survived catastrophic events is they were able to notice beauty? 

Why is beauty so important?  We can explain the evolutionary advantage:  "We have beauty so we can find colorful things and eat them."  Or, break it into little parts:  “It is line and form and proportion, and pattern, and perspective, and color, and light."  But that says nothing about what it really means in our lives.  

What is it in beauty that satisfies and nourishes, what calms and centers and answers my questions before I can even name them, that directs my actions before even realize what I'm doing?   I cannot say, but when I am looking for faith I find it here, in a world of superfluous beauty.  The world does not have to be this beautiful.  It could look like the inside of a machine.  I know physicists are looking for a unified theory of everything.  Whatever the theory turns out to be, I know it will be beautiful.

I don't see beauty the way I want to.  I make myself too busy.    Another sunset splashes colors through the sky...another moon throws diamonds on the ocean... and I forget to notice.  Then the beauty in the world calls out to me, reminds me like I need it to:  "It's all here and everywhere.  You are more than your activity.  Stop and look."    

Then I tell myself I’ve got nothing to do but notice, and I know I belong in the world as one of its creatures.  My old habits assert themselves:  "I should take the pictures here and run and take some more over there.  What if I’m missing something?"  So I tell myself it is enough right now.  The beauty here is as awesome as the beauty over there.  This is how I am learning, by degrees, to know the fullness and depth of seeing (as only a human being can see) the beauty in the world."