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The Possibility of Beauty

“What do I make of all this texture? What does it mean about the kind of world in which I have been set down? The texture of the world, its filigree and scrollwork, means that there is the possibility for beauty here, a beauty inexhaustible in its complexity, which opens to my knock, which answers in me a call I do not remember calling, and which trains me to the wild and extravagant nature of the spirit I seek.” — Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Positioning this idea of beauty in the world seems quaint when wars and pandemics flood us with so much ugliness and darkness. What are we to do but find light in the darkest corners? Life is a dance along the edge between chaos and order, and we must know both. But we can’t dwell in either. Still, if we are to become what we focus on the most, why not focus on beauty?

Writing, like photography, focuses us on what we want to find in the world. We seek out wonder while our opposites wrestle for control and influence. If the world teaches us anything it’s that life is textured and imperfect and more than a little unfair. But it’s still a blessing to be here in it. To celebrate the inexhaustible beauty in this complicated world is a mission of possibility and hope. What we make of it is up to us.

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