Beauty Is Meaning

Beauty Is Meaning

Anne Lamott writes, in Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair:

One rarely knows where to begin the search for meaning, though by necessity, we can only start where we are… It somehow has to do with sticking together as we try to make sense of chaos, and that seems a way to begin.

We try to help where we can, and try to survive our own trials and stresses, illnesses and elections. We work really hard at not being driven crazy by noise and speed and extremely annoying people, whose names we are too polite to mention. We try not to be tripped up by major global sadness, difficulties in our families or the death of old pets…

We work hard, we enjoy life as we can, we endure. We try to help ourselves and one another. We try to be more present and less petty. Some days go better than others. We look for solace in nature and art and maybe, if we are lucky, the quiet satisfaction of our homes.

We work hard, we try to enjoy life, we endure.  Life so many times is harder than we want it to be.  “It’s just the human condition”, they say.  Maybe they are right.  Maybe we humans are inevitably drawn into chaos, turmoil and bleak moods just because it’s the human condition.  We seem to destroy our habitat and each other and ourselves more every day.  We let money dictate our choices, we give into selfish interests and we focus on what’s wrong and on what needs fixing.  We let systems keep us captive, we give in to convenience, and we let fatigue overshadow our values.  We don’t know the answers and we forget to look at the sky.  We can’t find meaning in our day to day actions and we are stuck in the past or worrying about the future.  The world churns on and we get lost in the global maladies of our time.

Lamott goes on to say,

It’s a terrible system. But the good news is that then there is new life. Wildflowers bloom again… They’re both such surprises. Wildflowers stop you in your hiking tracks. You want to savor the colors and scents, let them breathe you in, let yourself be amazed. And bulbs that grow in the cold rocky dirt remind us that no one is lost.

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To be Mindful

To be Mindful

What is it to be mindful?

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. You notice little tidbits of beauty or feel the breeze on your face. It can be so easy to let ourselves slip into our routines and operate on autopilot, or go through our days in a semi-conscious state as we get sucked into the busy tendencies of modern life.  Practicing mindfulness means truly living in the moment and awakening to every experience.

Maybe to be mindful means that we need to turn the sirens and highways down and listen to the frequency that vibrates under the dull hum of the ‘first world’.  Perhaps it’s like looking under a log and seeing the other world that’s alive in the moss and soil and insects that make their home there.  So many times we just glance at the log and continue walking by, intent on where we are going.  Intent on getting there.  Achieving the goal.  Crossing the finish line.  Arriving.  Arriving quickly.  So many times we don’t even notice the log and the other realm that exists closer to the ground.

What are we missing when we hurry to get where we think we need to go?

We miss the deep blue of the western sky at dawn when the sun is just starting to spread rays of abundance into the day.   We miss the way the wind brings texture to a body of water that would otherwise be still, and waiting.   We miss the sound of roots eagerly drinking up moisture after incubating all winter in preparation for the moment the earth signals that it’s time to start growing again.  We miss the unruly pattern and unexpected symmetry of an aspen grove’s baby leaves as they dance in the rose colored breeze of a new season.   And we miss the opportunity to use each moment to appreciate a single breath and the life that flows through it.   We miss seeing the beauty where yesterday we saw nothing.

If we listen, we will hear.  We will hear and we will stop missing.  We  will notice the log and every other enchantment that there is to notice.

Maybe to be mindful means to see beauty where yesterday we saw nothing.


What might you do today to fully engage in each NOW moment?