The Purpose of Beauty
Yesterday I was in a slump. Perhaps I ate too much chocolate. Perhaps my shoes were on too tight. I looked around and wanted to light my house on fire. I was so done with clutter and wrapping paper and batteries and chaos.
Anyone hear me? Ha!
Was it really that bad?
But boy it was real.
Luckily the overwhelm passed as I leaned into feeling the subconscious squinting of my eyes and the shallowness of my breathing (this recognition is getting easier the more I practice!).
And then I decided to slow-motion put away Christmas decor and toys (the slow motion part helps me remember that kindness and clarity are first priority… sometimes cleaning can mutate into my buffering activity of choice), give the carpet a good vacuum, and hide half of our dishes. Truly I did. I decided we’re practicing for the RV adventure and we only need 8 sets of all things utensils and dinnerware.
Today my 3 year old did his own dishes twice. Boom shakka lakka.
Also, I got pondering why I have different reactions when stirred by my environment.
Obviously, it’s because of my thinking. I know I can think and choose and have whatever experience I desire.
But taking this thinking one step deeper helped me realize that my home was affording (or inviting) certain thoughts, and therefore feelings. And I realized, not for the first time, that when I surround myself with focused beauty (as opposed to shotgunned clutter), I am more easily led to a place of joy, peace, and perspective.
What is it about beauty, what is it about nature, about music, about candles, about soft things, about cleanliness, that leads me to gravitate toward peace?
And what is it about clutter, stimulation, sharp LEGO-mines, dirty piles of dishes, and crumbs that leads me to gravitate toward hiding in my bed?
I think it’s two things:
- We’re hardwired for our hearts to WAKE UP when we see beauty.
- We’re programmed to feel morally shameful about things that deviate from order.
I think both have interesting pros and cons to consider.
When we’re invited by a beautiful piece of music to dance, to smile, to laugh even, we’re imagining. We’re creating.
When something moves us or speaks to our souls, we’re inspired to engage, we’re inspired to speak to the souls of others. Isn’t that wonderful?
Yet when we are in discomfort, or in overwhelm, or just pure oversitmulation, our limbic brain says GET THE HECK OUT OF HERE THIS IS THE END OF THE WORLD!!!
Then we go to the bathroom and lock the door.
The majesty of beauty.
The discomfort of disorder.
Yet, consider this:
What if beauty’s majesty is meant to propel us toward action?
What if the purpose of inspiration was to engage the doing parts of us, and to lead us toward…
What if the discomfort of disorder is a root-strengthener, making us settle in further, stretching, breathing?
What if the purpose of home-centered frustration was to bring our feelings to the surface so that we could look at them, study them, and find beauty in them?
What if frustration was to propel us toward self- and other- acceptance, and to see the beauty in the reality of our raw experiences on the planet?
What if overstimulation
And what if they both were neither “good” nor “bad”, but meaningful experiences that propel us through the cycle of life?
As I look back upon my day-ago-self, I see the lessons that came from that overwhelmed moment. I see my hurt in my heart for a loved one who is sick, and I see that hurt manifesting in a shorter temper. What an invitation to love myself, my sickie, and have compassion for all things in their disorder.
I see the fire in my heart for simplicity and order, and I love that about myself.
I also see the fire in my heart for adventure and wild exploration of life and all things in it. I also love that about myself.
I see the creativity and exploration of my kids. It brings such light to my life.
I see the learning that I crave and the learning my children are experiencing.
And I see space for it all.
I’m so glad for the mess. I’m so glad for the connection, and for the changes, and for the moment’s lessons.
And I invite you to live in full color. In the arena. With the highs and lows. Let beauty wake you up, and let discomfort nip your heels.