Early morning on the mountain after a rain: A whiff of pines and, maybe, skunk. Baby hawks squabbling on the ridge. Ice-cold mountain water sucked from a stained Camelbak bought sometime in the 90s. The sticky surprise of cobwebs on my face, woven overnight along the trail.
I never know what the hour will be when I emerge out of the deep recesses of my mind and return to the ‘real’ world. Sometimes only an hour has passed and I have composed a thousand words; other times I emerge to find myself in the mid-afternoon with three or four thousand words on the page.
Cliff, so tall, had to bend low to open the limo door. And out stepped Cary Grant! Tanned, silver-haired, older than his movies, more solid-looking; yet unmistakably Cary Grant. And, attentive. To me!
I have travelled all over the world and visited more than 30 countries to gather material for my stories and articles. I undertake a project because I want to immerse myself in the subject, learn more about it, and take my readers on a journey with words
Our task is to pay attention, to notice that glint of sunlight on the water, the drops of dew on blades of grass, the red flash of a cardinal against a gray winter day, fireflies blinking in the dark, and stars scattered like glitter across the black northern sky.
If art is the way in which the artist is grasping the world, beauty stands for the emotion it creates in the eyes and mind of the observer. The ability to respond to art translates into the act of beauty which is on-going and engaging.
Humans have an inner compass that guides them toward beauty. The Japanese have a word for it, kachou fuugetsu which literally means Flower Bird Wind Moon but commonly translates to “experience the beauty of nature, learn about yourself”
Beauty is a flash flood in the desert. The blooming of fireweed and arctic lupine. Beauty is turquoise, milky glacial waters rushing past alpenglow mountains. A vulture soaring in a cloudless blue sky. A sun-bleached bone resting in the sand. The way wind whispers through the trees. The smell of dark earth after rain. Beauty exists within the small moments of solitude I am granted in nature.
I meander through a terrain of browns and greens amid a dappled blue and white sky. My fingers brush tall grasses and wild flowers still wet with morning dew. I hear a symphony of birdsong and inhale the scent of pine wafting on a fresh breeze.
In the afternoon, sunlight hits the clear water and the rocks underneath, coloring them golden. When I gaze at the spot and then turn to look further upstream, where some Sierra peak stands in the background, I know this soars to the spiritual realm that classifies as beauty, because every way I try to describe it misses the mark.
Beauty is kindness. It it the boy that holds out his hand to the bullied child on the playground. It is the man who buys lunch for the homeless. It is woman who rescues animals. The parents that open their hearts to an orphan. The community that embraces refugees. The girl who raises her voice to protect the weak. Beauty is the smiles that are sustained during the storm.
Beauty attracts. And not just organic forms of beauty. The motion and reflective properties of water; the arresting formations assumed by igneous rock; the vague, protean fleece or domes of cloud, the variable and mysterious lights in the night sky, and the regular rise and fall of ocean waves approaching the shore.