There was a video on social media a few weeks ago in which a high-school student filmed her classmates and teachers, stopping them in the hallways and classrooms and cafeteria, telling them: “I am working on a project about things I find beautiful. You’re beautiful.”
Of course, the real point of the piece was the sweet reactions she caught.
Some were humbly appreciative, responding with a simple “thank you.” Others were clearly uncomfortable. Interestingly, it was many of the adults, teachers and coaches, who appeared most reluctant to receive the compliment. Some people laughed, making self-disparaging jokes or comments. Many eyes immediately welled-up with tears — it was easy to imagine that this was the first time some of these individuals had heard this, at least from a peer, from someone other than a doting relative. The filmmaker said, “You’re beautiful” to people of all shapes and sizes, people with clear complexions and with breakouts, young and older, jocks and nerds, art-queers and band geeks and prom princesses… It was terrific. Watching it, I got really choked up.
I cried because it was deeply touching to watch hearts blooming open almost instantaneously when people were seen, truly seen, seen as beautiful.
I cried also because I felt my own perception shift: every single person — whatever they looked like and no matter whether their reactions were gracious or self-effacing — every single person became so very beautiful before my eyes.
All it took was one person to acknowledge another as beautiful — and so they were. I realized how natural and easy it is:
We make things and people beautiful simply by seeing them as such, by appreciating them exactly as they are, by loving them.
The ancient Greek philosophers like Plato more or less equated Beauty and Love, noting that we find things beautiful when they inspire love in our hearts — we want to be with them, to know them, to hold them. Love creates an awareness of Beauty. What occurs to me, now, is that it works in both directions — Beauty also begets Love. As we actively look for beauty, we can find it anywhere and everywhere. And once we notice beauty, it’s impossible not to fall a little bit in love with those beautiful things, those beautiful beings, each other.
Getting caught up in our day-to-day concerns, our struggles, it’s far too easy to lose sight of the beauty perpetually surrounding us, always yearning to burst forth from within us. Indeed, there is plenty to be concerned about in the world, plenty that looks downright ugly. And when we’re managing our myriad personal challenges, often feeling like we’re not doing a great job juggling it all, it can be really hard to notice or appreciate the beauty of our own lives.
But the thing is: when we’re overwhelmed and overworked and feeling dragged through the mud, it is more essential than ever for us to take time to look for Beauty, to see and experience Beauty.
Goethe advised: “A [person] should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of [her] life, in order that world cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”
Our ability to perceive Beauty and to fall in love with It is a soul-deep gift from the Divine. It’s in the beautiful world, and it’s in the eyes of the beholders perceiving it. When that which is beautiful in me recognizes that which is beautiful in you, we are, with each other, truly in Love. Let’s do it.
See you there, Beautiful Ones. XO, Drew
© 2019 Drew Groves