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The Beauty of Our Discoveries

“I hadn’t done drugs since sniffing Lady Esquire shoe polish when I was fifteen. I didn’t need to. I felt the pinch of wonder. I felt everything sharply, the people we met, the sensation of being in a body, of eating and drinking. I knew there was darkness in the world, but I was sure it would not overpower us; rather, we would let ourselves be overpowered by the beauty of our discoveries as we traveled through this world.” — Bono, Surrender

A lovely expression, this pinch of wonder, and something I wish we all shared. Too many seek distraction and escape over wonder, but let that not be us. When we lean into the life of an explorer, every encounter becomes an opportunity for illumination. Understanding of the world and our place in it can be a slow dawn for those of us not living the rock star lifestyle, but life doesn’t have to come at us in bold strokes for us to find the color. We simply have to be open to it.

A friend texted over the weekend, thrilled with the travel they’ve witnessed through my photographs, and wanting more. I confess to wanting more myself, even as I look around at the work to be done right at home. We never really finish building a nest, we just fly further and further from it in our quest to see what all the fuss is about. Not being a wealthy rock star, time and money remain considerations for strategic trips abroad. We simply can’t do everything, and really, why would we want to? Life isn’t about chasing the illusive, it’s about building something tangible: understanding, purpose, momentum… beautiful.

What washes over us when we encounter such things as beauty and magic? Do these encounters feed the fire for more exploration, or do they finally offer satisfaction? Are we ever really satiated? As if enough beauty and magic could exist in a world such as this? I believe we find something in ourselves that was aching to reach the surface in such moments, something beyond our present selves, something drawn from us as we’re pulled towards that which we seek. Magnetic momentum, if you will, pulling us from our shell into the world.

Bono uses his fame to build a better world, framed with understanding and empathy. It’s a noble pursuit enabled by the thrill people feel to be around someone larger than life. We might do the same, perhaps not to the same scale, but with the same zeal. We might each be ambassadors, not judges. We might be builders creating something better with each encounter. In a way, that’s a rock star way of looking at life: amplified and actively strumming, making our soundtrack. The beauty of our discoveries arranged into a life well-lived.

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