The Power of Beauty

I was in New York last weekend and spent a long stretch at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I used to plan my days in the city in half-hour intervals to make sure that I was able to see everything I could: people, exhibits, shops. Now I am easier on myself.  I schedule time with friends, mostly around meals, then I tend to wander.

I hadn’t planned on being at the Met for four hours.  I walked in, turned right and let go.  I said to a man later, “The Met is so greedy.  It has so much.” He smiled at me and replied, “But it is there for all of us.”  Lucky, that.

So I gobbled it up.  I strolled through period rooms. I leaned close to study the detail of intaglios from half a dozen cultures or more, careful not to touch my nose to the glass. I stood back in wonder at large abstract paintings that never fail to lift my spirits.

Through all of it I noticed the occasional visitor who moved through galleries with a phone about a foot from his face, recording all that was there.  Sweeping the rooms with this device, never looking with his eye.  “You’re missing all of it,” I thought.  “You cannot feel the energy of these things that way.”  Certainly, a better quality video could be purchased.  What was the point of standing in that place, if you could not feel the personal intent and the passion of the creators?

Readers email me fairly often to tell me stories they think I will like, or recommend something, or just say, “hello.”  I share a lot of personal things here and it gives them the freedom to share back.   Recently, someone stopped in to let me know that she was glad I was blogging again.  In her short email, she briefly mentioned a recent personal tragedy that made me put my head on my desk and weep.  There is so much pain.

But as I walked through the galleries at this grand museum, I saw as I have not for a while, that there is so much beauty. We have this need to create, to enhance our lives with objects that could be utilitarian, but instead are decorative. To express our love, our wonder, our frustration, our disappointment, is so innate.  It has been there since the beginning.  If we take the time to see it, it is there for all of us.

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14 thoughts on “The Power of Beauty

  1. I love the idea, and find I return to it with some frequency, that the human race has always loved beauty. Makes it feel necessary, like eating, and not just a sign of frivolity.

  2. Beauty is indeed all around us. An artist friend told me, life moves so fast, we need to be aware to slow down to capture it all.
    Glad you soaked up some beauty in NY. Next time put me down for a meal or a beverage.

  3. Museums are wonderful gifts to all of us, you are right Mrs Blandings!

    Spending a day at the met is a treat in all ways.

  4. The Temple of Dendur is one of my favorite places in the world. Whenever I go there, I don't want to leave. I get the most deep feeling of serenity in that place.

    I love the Met, and wish I could see it more often.

  5. Well said!
    without the pain would we be able to feel and experience the joy so fully? This is kind of why I like winter in KC, it makes Spring all the more magical and wonderful.

  6. I am one of those readers who is awfully glad you started blogging more again. I also love your pinterest boards, but am glad you did not forsake the blog solely in favor of them as you once said you might. After going through a house move and then a house fire, I am now renovating from the studs in, including all new fixtures, furniture, etc. Your ideas and inspirations have been helpful to say the least! And it's nice to know there are others like me who are excited and passionate about these things. It's not a chore for me, it's a dream with a price tag that happily insurance is picking up much of :-).

  7. When I got married in 1966, a friend's mother told me an old Persian saying: "If you have enough money for a loaf of bread, buy half a loaf instead and with the other, buy hyacinths for the soul". It's a great mantra.

    Many years ago, I heard a sermon about "Live through a viewfinder" and it's serious limitations. Just like the guy with with his iPhone at the Met.

  8. Hi Patricia, I am so touched by this post. Yes, I, too, am glad that you are blogging again. There is so much pain in existence. My daughter sent me this quote from Rumi this morning: "The wound is the place where light enters you"–isn't light art? Isn't art the act of being present in the moment where light exists. Where would creation be without the pain of birthing?
    Be well.

  9. Oh I can never experienced enough art, sculpture, architecture…never enough time! I am continuously working on it though!
    The Arts by Karena

  10. Thank you for the reminder. I live in Washington with it's wealth of free museums and fail to take advantage for months on end. Perhaps indulging in beauty should be a priority on a par with attending to health and beauty needs.

  11. Your beautiful photograph reminds me of the photography of Candida Hofer. It also rings of perfection in illustrating your words. For, in the photograph the blue sky is only visible in the reflection. "If we take the time to see it, it is there for all of us."

  12. This was a touching and,beautiful post. I know it came from your heart; it went directly to the hearts of others. Love sjcl

  13. You are so very right on target! It is a lesson that can take a while to learn. But it changes you for the better once you do.

    Your photo is wonderful. I remember the first time I took in that scene. I was stopped in my tracks, not the least for it seeming so cavernous and open in a city where views of the sky can be scarce.

  14. Just reading this post and the comments makes me feel I am among my tribe. Beauty, loss, birth and rebirth, pain, joy– yep, all of it.

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