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What is Beautiful

“The sea is not less beautiful in our eyes because we know that sometimes ships are wrecked by it.” ― Simone Weil, Waiting for God

Two things I rarely write about are religion and love. The meaning of each is in the eye of the beholder, and the fastest way to divide a room is to carry on too much about either. Even writing that statement will turn off a true believer or two. So be it. We each wrestle with ourselves and our place in this world. Relationships, whether with God or science, your true love or platonic love, are complicated. We’re not on this earth long enough to know everything, but our journey isn’t about the finish, it’s about who we become each step along the way.

Some people want certainty in their lives. So they only marry someone who believes in the same god, or goes to the same church, or no church. Or maybe it’s politics or nationality or favorite sports team that dictates who they choose to associate with. This is inherently limiting, of course, for it keeps us in a box of our own making. They might as well make it a casket.

The thing is, we all have our core belief systems and tend to seek out that which reinforces that identity. Over the years I’ve wrestled with strong feelings about everything from musical genres to whether the house lights are left on at night. None of it matters in the long run, it’s just positioning of the self in an indifferent world. Writing every day is the miraculous clarifying tool which brings me closer to understanding it all. Perhaps it is for you too.

When the year is over, barring some last-minute heroics, I will have read fewer books than last year. And yet the lift is heavier this year, with some significant philosophical works in the mix. This may be my What’s it all about Alfie stage of life, but I think not. I’ve always been this way; I just make better choices now. As you grow you tend to explore your openness to new influences a bit more.

As sure as I believe there’s a heaven above
Alfie, I know there’s something much more
Something even non-believers can believe in
I believe in love, Alfie
Without true love we just exist, Alfie
Until you find the love you’ve missed
You’re nothing, Alfie
— Burt Bacharach / Hod David, Alfie

The world is wrestling with nihilism and division at the moment. It will eventually swing back towards unity, hopefully before too much damage is done. All we can do is be active ambassadors for openness and unity. What is beautiful in our lives may wreck us, but it might also be our salvation. What is life but a journey to discover that which resonates most for us? We reach awareness in our own time, and learn to cherish the experiences and influences that bring us there.

Whatever the package it comes from, that which is derived from true love and honesty is beautiful. We may learn from it, or turn away from it, but the truth remains. Our obligation to ourselves and the world is to be open. What is beautiful will find its way to us.

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