Sunday, August 02, 2015

The Need for Beauty

It’s that moment, that very brief moment, when beauty overtakes us, when we pause in our hasty moving from one spot to another, completing one task after another inscribed on an endless list. We, all of us, have an instinctive need for beauty. Without it, we live our days without life.

“It was one of those days when it’s a minute away from snowing and there’s this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. Right?” (Ricky Fitts in American Beauty)

Rituals long passed down abound with beauty in costumes, movements, song, and symbolisms. Cave walls carry evidence of our ancestors’ need for artistic expression. Buried objects brought to light bear witness to the need to craft from within.

“And this bag was just dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes.” (Ricky Fitts)

And I find myself fighting for the time to slow and appreciate the beauty that surrounds me: a mother kissing her child, smiles between lovers, a hawk on wing making lazy circles, a singer across the sound system. Beauty is everywhere.

“That’s the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever.” (Ricky Fitts)

We have allowed ourselves to fall into repetition without purpose, a tightening circle of trying to sate a Joseph Campbell archetypal, primordial hunger for beauty with concrete creations of the mind rather than abstraction constructions of the heart and soul. Continually looking into the screen in our hands instead of relishing the stage of the world immediately around us can lead only to spiritual starvation.

“Video’s a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember…I need to remember.” (Ricky Fitts)

We need to remember, to remember how it was, how it can be again if we quiet the shouting of our higher cortical processes. Like Wordsworth, our “heart with pleasure” will fill if we so wish.

“Sometimes there’ so much beauty in the world, I feel I can’t take it, and my heart is just going to cave in.” (Ricky Fitts)

And I would describe it slightly differently. I say that at times my heart feels it will burst from the beauty that surrounds me. And, perhaps, that’s how we began…that white-hot, instantaneous creation of this world was the explosion of beauty from another.

Mike Sledge