I want you to consider your favourite piece of music, song or artist. Let it waltz, drum, fade-in and ameliorate your current mindset. Be it the clash of cymbals, the baritone voice; the rhythmic pulse of drums or traditional percussion like heartbeats of an ancient era; the rising soprano with the quivering glass; the electric hoorah of the last chord in a guitar; or whatever fits the glove of your appreciation. Grab it, hold it, and shake hands. This, dear reader, is your projected beauty. And only one part!
If our bodies are temples, then longing for beauty is the stained-glass window. It is wonderful to appreciate those things we find beautiful: music, literature, art, dance, movies, engineering, sunsets. The list is as endless as a flowing microcosm. For that is exactly it’s point: It grows and shakes and moves.
Answer the question: How many people do you know who hate music?
I have yet to meet one, but I do not doubt there exists such.
Or perhaps: someone who hates literature?
I do not doubt our extent for hate, but it is my trust in what we can love that rises above the negative. And it is focusing on what we love, what we find beautiful, that often unites us. It is easy to raise our swords and words, our fingers are eager to point at a moving target. We are programmed to be ready with torches and baying hounds to lynch-mob a group, a person, an idea. And too often we forget that it is in fact easier to unite for the opposite reason: To replace the pitchforks with handshakes, the finger with the wide eye.
Who does not have an intake of breath at the awe, mystery and wonder of the universe? Who does not rejoice in our ongoing treatment and fighting of diseases: medical, political, or societal? We are quick to anger at the kidnapped child, yet forget the average happy child growing and living. The incredible network we have stepped into, a realised world awaiting our hands to mold it into something even more beautiful. With our brains and our awareness, we have a responsibility – not just to protect this world, but to love it, to cherish it. Loving is not the same as cherishing: We can all love our lives, but how often do we cherish that we are alive, are in a complex beautiful network of interconnected species?
Literature is my passion. I love asking people of their favourite writers. To be sure, my snobbery from my English degree has made me somewhat disdainful of trite, unthinking literature (Dan Brown, Jackie Collins, etc.) But the question remains and the value is retained. My love lies in Russian literature (Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol) and Southern Gothic American (Faulkner, Morrison, McCarthy), with snatches of French classics (Sartre, Camus, Stendhal) – but it is ever growing. I am in awe of writing and language and the beauty it creates.
But that is my own stained-glass. It is ever shattered and ever remade. When is yours being remade? When do you look through your windows, into a multicoloured world and think: Where else does my beauty lie?