Why Beauty Is Such An Integral Part Of Life (and Meditation)
Many of my friends are interested in politics and current affairs. They regularly go to protests and support humanitarian efforts around the world. For example, one friend is working as an eye doctor to solve blindness in developing countries. Another works for a wiki leaks style company, passionate about preserving our online privacy. Another is interested in the politics of sex and gender. She works tirelessly to rebalance feminine oppression and promote equality.
"Pavel Konstantinovitch," he said in an imploring voice, "don't be calm and contented, don't let yourself be put to sleep! While you are young, strong, confident, be not weary in well-doing! There is no happiness, and there ought not to be; but if there is a meaning and an object in life, that meaning and object is not our happiness, but something greater and more rational. Do good!” - Chekhov, Gooseberries.
Reflecting on this quote from Chekhov leads me to think back to the times that I have been directly involved in the political sphere. In a previous incarnation, I studied politics and worked in London at The House Of Parliament for MP’s Iain Duncan Smith and Greg Clarke, also making a cameo at The Centre For Social Justice in Lambeth North in London. I was really keen to get the world moving. If a friend had said to me, back then, that they didn't know who the Prime Minister was, or how voting worked, I would've been aghast.
Yet as time has passed my interest has changed shape and moved from the political to the psychological, through the spiritual and now as it rests today, in the poetical. My exploration of these fields has been a result of following my interest as it's blossomed moment to moment.
Where does the celebration of beauty fit into the political sphere?
I'm passionate about the life enhancing qualities of beauty. I often work with spas and wellness providers and very much appreciate beauty as it is understood in that context. (As in perfumes, face creams and massages) However, this blog post is here to consider beauty in a wider, arty perspective. For example:
- A beautiful sunset or painting
- A beautiful flower or orchard
- A beautiful poem
- A beautiful dance
- A beautiful conversation
Is beauty practical enough to help a person struggling with some of the more essential parts of life like hunger, greif or poverty. Or are beautiful things simply ornamental, a lift in a busy day?
Yes. At one level that’s exactly what they are and what a lovely gift they make. Who here does not like the smell of sweet roses or watching the sunrise of a morning?
And there's more. There is something conveyed to us in beautiful things and it goes beyond aesthetics. Beauty is a calling card from eternity. Beautiful things calls out from within the dream to say…
They (beautiful things, flowers let's say) reach down within us and grab hold of the part of us that has a quiet remembering of a distant beautiful place we have once known and now know again through the flower. A place like home where we are splendid and magnificent.
A Tomato Sauce Tale
In a distant land, in some future time, you are travelling far away from home in a remote place. Everything is different here somehow. You carry on covering the ground of life until the homesickness fades and you begin to fall sleepy and forget all about your old life, of home and all the things you once knew.
Years and years later, you sit down to dinner at a restaurant and find a bottle of Tomato Ketchup nestled easily between the salt and pepper shakers. The sight of it sparks a joyful flutter in your heart and a sense of familiarity. It reminds you of something, although you can’t say exactly what.
In the years that follow you encounter more and more homely tokens on your travels. Each sighting is reassuring and grows your interest in descovering the place they remind you of.
And so it is with beautiful things. They lift your spirits on a day to day level, but somewhere at another level they are the little calling cards love leaves you along the track. Each petal a breadcrumb, singing you home.
Where do you find beauty? I usually post the beautiful things I find (flowers, beaches, poems, music, people) on Instagram so please do tag me @emmamillslondon to show me yours too.
*Image credit, this image is taken from the back of a Tiffany Jewellery Booklet. “Anyone who was a rebel at one time in life cannot return to being conventional.” #ElsaPeretti http://bit.ly/1w3flin