"Beauty in Unexpected Places"
Yesterday I had a wonderful opportunity to be interviewed for an upcoming documentary film now being produced. The director decided to interview me inside my house seated on a chair in a corner next to the fireplace.
As they began to set up for the interview, I watched with care and realized that the documentary folks didn't actually "change" anything at all of what was already there in the house. Instead they were looking at it in a new way - some backlighting to bring out the lush green color of a nearby houseplant, positioning the angle of the chair so that the perfect amount of natural light would fall upon it, paying attention to a picture on the wall behind the chair so it would serve as a beautiful backdrop. After about an hour of extremely meticulous setup, that chair on which I sit every day in the little corner of my house was transformed into a magnificent "movie set."
In the interview yesterday as we were talking about finding beauty and poetry in the most unexpected and ordinary places in life, I realized that this is exactly what these very creative guys had done in my house. They looked at a little ordinary corner of it and saw something extraordinary there. I will never again sit in that corner without seeing how beautiful it is.
Ive been thinking about something Michelangelo was purported to have said about his art:
In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me,
shaped and perfect in attitude and action.
I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition
to reveal it to other eyes as mine to see it.
I think maybe the whole world of ordinary everyday life is like a block of marble teeming with beauty, a hidden treasure to be explored and uncovered, and you don't have to be a celebrated artist like Michelangelo to see the beauty within. In fact when any single one of us pays close enough attention, we will be able to uncover the most extraordinary beauty in the most ordinary and perhaps unexpected places in life.
Before moving out to the desert we had several occasions to drive through this region. As I would drive my car along the Interstate Highway, passing through the sandy desert valley with its barren stoney mountains, I used to think to myself, "Why on earth would anyone want to live out here in such a desolate place?" Now that I actually live here I can't imagine wanting to live anywhere else.
When I clear my mind, open my heart, stay awake in the moment, and "pay attention" to this apparently barren desert, I almost always uncover a world of incredibly lush beauty. I discover cacti that bloom in an array of stunning colors such as I have never before seen anywhere else in my life. I see tender wildflowers peppering the desert floor, sage bushes and exotic smoke trees, mountains that seem so barren suddenly turning to gold as they glow in the sunset and turning purple as the sun rises at the break of day- all so excruciatingly beautiful, sometimes it's hard to take it all in.
The whole world is a block of marble. In every single corner of every ordinary house, in every single place our feet might step, in every single person we meet every single day, there is "beauty" to be uncovered, hidden treasure to be explored.
As I sit in my desert garden on this glorious August day, I am paying attention to it all.