March 28
Though we travel the world
over to find the beautiful,
we must carry it with us
or we find it not.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Today's Meditation:

This seems to be a nice way of restating the phrase "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."  Emerson said in "Self-Reliance" that we can dream of Naples and how beautiful it will be, but then we'll pack our bags and go there, only to find that we're there with our same selves.  And if that self always looks for beauty elsewhere, then guess what?  Carrying beauty within us is having the ability to see, to appreciate, and to love beauty when it's in front of us.

I'm constantly amazed at the things that people don't find beautiful, or that they even find ugly or unpleasant--or even just ordinary.  I've seen things that I've thought were extraordinary, only to hear someone else say how awful they were.  I don't know exactly what the differences were in how we saw the things, but I believe that Emerson was on to something very important in life--we have to train ourselves to recognize the beautiful in all the things that we see if we're going to recognize and appreciate just how amazing this world of ours is.

For if our world isn't amazing, then it becomes ordinary and drab.  If we find things in our own world starting to become ugly, then we have to realize that the ugliness isn't in the things, it's in the ways that we see those things.  The ugliness comes from inside us, not from the thing itself.  And that's something that we can learn to change. 

Yes, there are some awfully ugly things in the world--things like violence and prejudice and hatred.  And we should see them for just what they are.  But if we really want to get in touch with the beauty in the world, then we need to recognize that much of the beauty depends upon us to see it.  We shouldn't spend so much time looking in other places for something that we already have right at home.

Questions to consider:

How do people lose the idea that they bring beauty with them--or leave it behind when they see beautiful things?

What's the inherent limitation in believing that beauty is in the objects that we see, as opposed to being in the ways that we see those things?

Have you ever thought something was beautiful, only to have someone else say it was ugly?  What was the difference in perspective?  Likewise, have you ever seen something as ugly that someone else thought was beautiful?

For further thought:

The fact that we can't see the beauty in something
doesn't suggest that it's not there.  Rather, it suggests
that we are not looking carefully enough or with
a broad enough perspective to see it.

Richard Carlson


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