Not everyone is always steadfast or courageous enough to heed the Navajo (or was it Hopi?) encouragement, "All around me is beauty." That's a tall order even as the truth of it may create a wistful, wishful pinnacle in the mind or heart. There is so much to do, so many 'practical' chores that need attending to ... I may wish I had such a mind and heart, but, well, often I do not.
Still, even with all the failures and half-measures, I think it is a good idea to attend to our beauty, whatever it is. Maybe it's just a flood of ease, maybe it's a jaw-dropping sunset, maybe it's the places to which music may carry its listener ... there is no 'objective,' one-size-fits-all, beauty, but that doesn't mean there isn't beauty. And to neglect this aspect simply because "you can't eat a Rembrandt" or "Beethoven doesn't pay the rent" or "the corner office is where I want to be" ... well, it's deadening and sad.
Even the cave men depicted the news events of their day in delicious -- and perhaps beautiful -- ways. And there are the prancers and dancers when it comes to "beauty" -- people who trumpet their love beauty but really only love themselves.
Around here, the news is full of an impending hurricane moving up the East Coast. One report said flooding could be as bad as it was in 1938. A lumber yard about a quarter of a mile from where I live has a commemorative marker on its sidewalk wall -- this is how high the water was when the hurricane of 1938 hit. And the marker is well above my head.
Floods don't generally occur all at once. They sneak and lap and gain depth a bit at a time. Bit by bit they gain ascendancy over what defies their advance. Bit by bit ....
Bit by bit the merchants gain a foothold. Maybe in the mind. Maybe in the street. Who has time for beauty when times are tough? Sell the furniture, sell the heritage ... we can no longer afford beauty; we are the new lords of the land, these merchants. And worse than these lapping lords of the land, are the lappings of the mind, the merchants in all of us: "You can't eat Beethoven."
Yesterday, a friend sent me a news article about an Ohio congressman who, during an open meeting, had the cops confiscate recording devices (cameras, phones) of audience members. He didn't want some Youtube embarrassment cropping up, but his minions said it was for the audience's benefit. Open meetings may not seem to be exactly beautiful, but I would argue they are a thread in the tapestry that allows people to breathe freely. I would argue that this sort of event is a good example of the lapping, lapping, lapping ... the creeping advance of the merchant-mind...the kind of thing that diminishes beauty in pursuit of self-congratulation. Beauty does not congratulate itself. It has no motive: That's what makes it beautiful.
Whatever it is, I don't think beauty is self-congratulatory. It fills and informs and -- that's right -- you can't eat it or pay the rent with it, but without it, the world fills up with zombies ... dead men walking. And the real difficulty does not lie with the fact that others can turn the world into a merchandising Mecca, but with the fact that we ourselves can sell ourselves out, sell our blood for a bit of the latest heroin.
"All around me is beauty."
Consider the possibility.