Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Choosing Beauty

Orchard Swallowtail Butterfly in my Garden


Lately, my thoughts are being challenged daily between either focusing on beauty or ugliness. It can encompass any and all subject matter from world politics to the daily minutiae of my life.

From the horror of another massacre or terrorist attack one moment to the uplifting efforts of an individual or group to help humanity in some way. From the sight of yet another flattened and rotting cane toad carcass on the road to the graceful sway of a horse's tail in the paddock. This constant barrage of blissful awe versus grotesque actions and visuals takes its toll some days. However, what I am getting better and better at, is moving on quickly from the negative thoughts and images and lingering on the positive ones. 

For starters, I pretty much stopped watching television a few years ago. In particular, the news. I still enjoy the odd movie or sporting event, but weeks can pass without ever turning on the TV. What this does for me is quite empowering. Instead of someone else deciding what I will see, I get to choose what I want to see. I am able to limit the effects of marketing and advertising that permeates the masses with their mostly inane commercials. You need this. You need that. You will be more beautiful if you use this. You will miss out on this if you don't do that. You get my drift. Instead, I am able to read and watch what interests me versus wasting my time being bombarded by the drivel of commercialism. I have chosen enrichment over banality.

My daily walks even present me with the need to choose. The town I am living in is a perfect example of economic diversity. Many once lovely homes have fallen into disrepair. The charming "Queenslander' homes that populate this area are the epitome of shabby chic...except when they are more shabby than chic. The ones that have not seen a fresh coat of paint since 1962 or the ones that have undergone addition after poorly executed addition and leave but a trace of their former bones make me feel sad. I walk past these beaten and battered, shells of their former selves, and can almost feel their despair, their shame. I have to consciously stop myself from lingering too long in their dilapidated energy. I increase my pace and look for a more pleasing facade, knowing there are some ahead. When I reach a cared for property, I am filled with relief and an appreciation of their tended gardens and inviting verandas. My pace slows and the fresh image restores what the previous visual assault wreaked upon me.

If I were to allow the ugliness to trump the beauty, it would depress me. For anyone who is familiar with the daily photos I take, it is clear that I choose to focus on the beauty around me. The beauty of nature is my religion really. It is not always in my immediate field of vision, but I do make a continual and constant effort to surround myself with things I find visually pleasing. My eyes are always looking for a fix. My heart can skip a beat when I see a shocking pink bougainvillea tumbling over a fence, or a mob of grazing kangaroos. A spectacular sunset can connect me to my source as intensely as the most stirring piece of music can move me to tears. 

Stopping to smell the roses is a way of life that I have chosen. It does not cost anything. We are surrounded at all times with nature, whether it be a pot of herbs on your inner city window sill or endless views of rolling hills surrounding your country house, it's there. No pot of herbs? Look out your window. Notice a cloud formation. Watch the wind carry a scrap of paper past your window - the simple elegance of that.  Find a snippet of beauty in the seeming mundane. Every time you practice these small moments of conscious awareness, you are feeding your soul. 

And what soul does not need a little fuel? I don't know any. Do you?

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