Why is everything so beautiful?


Have you ever wondered why everything is so beautiful? Have you stood rapt in the brilliant colors of a sunset, or listening to birdsong in the morning, or watching the way a caterpillar humps along with all its little feet working together? Perhaps there are logical, book smart reasons, like flowers are beautiful to attract bees, or animals are beautiful to attract mates or to warn predators they’re toxic, or some such thing, but don’t those answers beg the question really? Why is beauty? Could the answer be that it is to inspire awe in us? And our job is to notice.

A master violinist can play Bach on a precious instrument, and most people will just walk by:


We are living in a place filled with beauty if we only stop to notice. For inspiration, consider Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day:

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

What a gift we have been given to have the chance to notice the beauty all around us today!




Pay attention.


What do we miss simply by failing to pay attention? By rushing?

In 2007, in the arcade area of a subway in D.C., over a thousand people missed something spectacular. Joshua Bell, one of today’s foremost classical musicians, played a few pieces by Bach and Mendelssohn, among others, on his multi-million dollar violin. Three days before this, Bell had performed to a filled Symphony Hall in Boston where tickets for average seats went for over $100.

Over a thousand people rushed by on their way to work and failed to notice the free gift. Why?

Was it because of the context? Bell wasn’t in a tuxedo; he had an open violin case in front of him sprinkled with change and a couple bucks; the forum was mundane; Bell looked just like any other street musician.

Why didn’t Bell’s expertise and the difficulty and complexity of the pieces he played transcend the day to day and encourage people to stop and listen?

Perhaps it is because we have become a bit numb to beauty. We don’t look for it in the ordinary places. Maybe we even look away from the ordinary places.

We miss so much when we rush.

Slow down. What amazing thing is right there if only you stop to see?