Right now, the leaves are changing color where I live. Sometimes, when driving to or from work, I see striking images of beauty. Magenta, indigo and cadmium orange sunrises and sets, florescent yellow and crimson trees, bursts of water crashing and billowing off waterfalls, sharp mountains cutting into the sky, shrouded in swirls of mist. I feel a need to somehow capture or absorb these images. All I can think to do is to take deep breaths and imagine the beauty coming in to me.
I suspect that I am missing a deeper way of knowing. I want to become one with the beauty; I want to be the streaks of light that look like God is communicating with the mountains. But my thoughts get in the way. All my worries, all my mental distractions keep me from fully experiencing the everyday majestic beauty of nature.
I think that we always want to consume or merge with beauty. It’s why older adults will pinch the cheeks of cute children – they want grab on, to connect. But it’s never satisfying. At least with beautiful food, you can eat it. I think with adults, when we find someone beautiful whom we want to consume that sex is the best we can do. That is, unless we allow ourselves to be cannibals. But then, we would destroy a thing of beauty that we want to hold on to. So, nothing is completely satisfying. If you have the time and ability to paint a beautiful landscape, perhaps that would come close to the feeling of bringing that beauty into your heart. I suppose it would be nice to be able to just let beauty be, and not feel a need to appreciate it on a profound level. But I don’t seem to be wired that way. Perhaps that’s a relic of a culture that insists on controlling nature, on growing flowers in patterns and deciding which plants are weeds. I can’t fence in scenes of great beauty, and I can’t just let them be. When I am confronted with them, the only coping technique I have come up with is to breath it all in deeply. Deep breathing also has the advantage of putting me in a calmer mood, which can help to still the mind a bit to allow me to more fully notice beauty. But it is inadequate, and I wonder if I will ever find a way to more fully appreciate beauty in my lifetime.
The Black River, by Roxanne Rodgers
More thoughts about natural beauty are behind this flower:
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This is my 2006 report on the structural violence of institutional racism and poverty that produce an inadequate and unequal public school system in the United States. The case study is of Central High School in Providence, Rhode Island:
Central High School
Here are two large posters that I created that show the Citric Acid Cycle and Photosynthesis: