There’s a poem by Mary Oliver called “The Swan” that changed my life the first time I read it. It made me evaluate what I thought being beautiful meant— how I had been groomed by the media to believe it was skin-deep—and how I had trained myself to think it was always elsewhere. The last lines of the poem read: And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for? And have you changed your life?
I promise that if you look for the beauty, even in the pain, even in what feels like the deepest pile of shit or, let’s say, a global pandemic, there will be some. And consistently noticing it will change your life because there is nothing greater than our attention. It’s truly all we have to give, so when we give our attention to actively searching for beauty, we come closer to the age-old provocation: How do I be here? Now?
Finding Beauty Where You Least Expect It
A friend of mine, the beloved comedian Steve Bridges, died suddenly several years ago. It was not beautiful. But, through his death, I met his sister Liz. I didn’t know her while he was alive. The day after he died, I stood on his doorstep, on his “Gone Surfing” doormat, and there she was when the door opened. There was a gift in the loss of him. Liz is the beauty I found. Our friendship flourished. Thank you, Steve.
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November - December 2020