On Beauty

Photo source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altricial

“Beauty like that is strength. […] One could turn the world upside down with beauty like that.”

~ Fyodor Dostoevsky “The Idiot”

This page is dedicated to the work of human spirit: the things that feed our soul, keep us warm, make us grow. A brooding bird will often pluck its own chest to line a nest with feathers and down. A brooding poet may do the same to the nest of a poem. We write our lives with things that grow inside us, things that want out, things that we hope will one day take wing. Sometimes writing about a panful experience leaves us feeling vulnerable, exposed, our chests plucked bare of their shields against other people’s scrutiny. And yet, with that vulnerability comes growth. We must recognize the hurt in order not to let it dictate the trajectory of our flight. We exorcise the pain by acknowledging it first.

So much of what we do on a daily basis is transformative. It’s not just what we eat, or the places we go, or the people we meet. We’re also transformed by intangible things : the ones we choose to ingest, the ones we stumble upon by chance. When we encounter what someone else has created, we often recognize it as our own truth. We welcome it into the nest we’re building because it already belongs there. “I couldn’t have said it better myself,” we say. He’s “singing my life with his words,” we say.

We are connected to writers, painters, musicians from other eras and other places through their work. This is their gift. It changed them in their own time and now it changes us. The nest keeps growing. It’s become a gigantic, interwoven roost that spans time and space—and we are right in the middle of it. Given how close we are to Shakespeare, Van Gogh, Mozart, given how similarly we feel, how much we’ve suffered and how we were able to translate that suffering into something transcendent—how can we not hope to find a way to survive as a species?

Beauty may yet save the world.

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