Absolute Beauty

Sometimes, plans go haywire and the results are better than the plan. So it is today.

We were going to head out-of-town on a “mission” to increase our knowledge about an area. Various circumstances stepped in to, first, delay the trip then postpone it for a while.  And the outcome was good.

Coincidentally, as I stepped out to the back patio just a few moments ago, I saw something that called for a camera, a way to capture beauty.  I had just lit a piece of incense and sat on the soft cushion of the wrought iron chair when I saw it.

The sunset and the clouds and the egret flying gracefully overhead were in perfect proportion, perfectly aligned; it was beauty in a way that I can’t begin to describe.  Instead of running inside to grab a camera in a vain attempt to capture a moment incapable of imprisonment, I ran inside and asked my wife to join me on the patio to see what I saw.  She joined me.  She saw the beauty a camera cannot.  She was glad I asked her out.

She returned inside to do whatever it was that she had been doing.  I stayed outdoors, marveling at the astonishing beauty of the sunset and the bird and the trees against that horizon and the smell of incense and the coolness of the light breeze that a camera cannot possibly capture.

These are the moments that cause people to believe in the supernatural; it may be hard to imagine that the real world is so immeasurably beautiful without the guiding hand of a magician.  But that’s the way it is; the real world, in all its natural, evolving, unplanned glory, is enough to take your breath away.  No supernatural intervention needed.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Absolute Beauty

  1. I like that word, “sprezzatura.” It describes perfectly the effortlessness of the beauty I saw; so much is hidden behind that simple “snapshot” image, but none of that is visible, only the beauty of the scene. I hope that symbolism and the images are reflective; would be nice to think they were!

  2. Juan says:

    It wasn’t long ago that I also came across a similar thing: An egret standing near my pool — and by the Buddha statue, no less! I caught it in a picture. Was it a sign? I took it as such. The ancients interpreted deeply into things like this, because such things bordered on the unusual.

    Facts and stats are no matter for interpretation, because interpretation is introspective — psychological, soothsaying and even sociological. Beauty is introspective and it almost always borders on the unusual.

    So, what is beauty?

    On Beauty, Castiglione writes:

    “I have found quite a universal rule which in this matter seems to me valid above others, and in all human affairs whether in a word or deed: and that is to avoid affectation in every way possible as though it were some very rough and dangerous reef; and (to pronounce a new word perhaps) to practice in all things a certain “sprezzatura,” so as to conceal all art and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.”

    In other words, beauty comes naturally — without effort — and any duplication of it is just THAT … duplication of what is the collective acceptance of “beauty.” As you say, “[t]he sunset and the clouds and the egret flying gracefully overhead were in perfect proportion, perfectly aligned; it was beauty in a way that I can’t begin to describe.”

    Frankly, I think you saw more than perfect proportion and alignment in a passing egret, but symbolically, the aligning that you are passionately involved with now. You cannot ignore images as a reflection as well.

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