this month's topic for Just Another Collab - beauty.
sometimes there is so much beauty in the world that i feel like i just can't take it and my heart is going to cave in...
ricky fitts - american beauty
In the Eye of the Beholder
American Beauty is one of my favorite movies from this past year, and i raved to anyone who would listen that perhaps the most perfect five minutes on film is the sequence where ricky is showing jane his video of the plastic bag, swirling and dancing. that he takes the time to appreciate the odd moments that others might never see reminded me that it is all too easy to overlook the beauty in our lives.
the last time i felt truly aware of the sounds, textures, smells in my life was about three months ago. we had just gotten back from a week in London, where we had done *nothing* but look and explore. a week of museums, gardens, plays, parties, and i would have thought my senses would be overwhelmed. but somehow, it worked the other way. it woke them up. i had immersed myself in living in another place for a week, and when i came home, i felt almost like an outsider or a visitor in my own neighborhood, a place i've lived and worked for ten years. it was a fascinating experience to be given fresh eyes. walking to work, i noticed everything, from the suncatcher in someone's window, to the texture of the sidewalk, the willow tree just around the corner from the bus stop, the quality of the light and the air... every little thing, and some big things that i brushed right by most days, the blinders on as i headed to work. that week, i felt invigorated by the simple pleasure of noticing things.
i find the people that i love to be beautiful. sometimes, a simple gesture or look from them can be more beguiling than the finest of paintings. and they are not beautiful because they satisfy society's idea of beauty, or fashion's barbaric demands for inhuman standards. they are beautiful from the inside, because of who they are. i see on their faces all of the history we have between us, and that, to me, is a rare and precious thing.
i don't think of myself as artistically talented in any way (having not progressed much past 3rd grade's two dimensional pictographs), and i regret that, because the ability to create beauty out of nothingness is amazing. the one place i feel like i can create something beautiful is in my garden. i love getting out there and mucking around in the dirt, weeding and pruning and planting and creating. well, not creating, more like nourishing. it's really satisfying to be able to come home in the summer dusk and have the yard be covered with little explosions of color - tomato plants here, cinnamon yarrow there, sweet peas climbing up the fence, and railroad vine draping down the porch railing. i've actually gone and planted entire gardens for people, or weeded back the ones they have, because there's so much joy in seeing happy plants.
i shouldn't say the garden is the only place, i guess - the kitchen is another one. but i never plate things up quite the way i want to. maybe i should take a class at the culinary institute down the street in how to play with my food. 8)
[looking around my office] huh... i guess i do have a habit of filling my spaces with that which i find beautiful. someone once commented that my office looked like an art gallery; i had brought in all my favorite postcards (the only thing i could afford in most museums when i was a student) and put them up very neatly on all my bulletin boards, pinned in place with map tacks chosen to match the colors in the card. i've got a few Japanese prints up, some watercolrs from an old New Yorker desk calendar, Hippolyte Flandrin's painting of a boy with his head on his knees, and a photo calendar. picking out the calendar i hang in my office is an annual torture. i want something functional and attractive, and it often takes hours to weed thru all the possibilities to find something i will actually want to look at all year. this year was a series of relatively muted photos of interiors; i needed some calm oasis, visually, in a hectic year. other years, it's been Maxfield Parrish, Keith Haring, coffee, or porches. ~sigh~ time to start looking for next year's soon, i suppose.
one perfect and beautiful moment: walking the shoreline at the park in Marblehead on a brisk, sunny fall day with my sweetie. the harbor was filled with boats of all sizes and shapes, most sailboats, and the water was that deep blue that you just *know* means it's cold. we clambered up and down the rocks, watched the boats, the tide swishing the seaweed around the shore, and watched him take pictures. he was happy playing with his camera, and i was looking forward to lobster for lunch. that afternoon wasn't perfect (i got too cold, as i always do), but it was gorgeous, and the pictures from that day are some of my favorites.