What’s one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever read or heard?
Beauty is subjective (or in some cases, so overwhelming beautiful that it becomes universal like one of Beethoven’s symphonies) but beauty to me rouses us to contemplate our existence.
It makes us feel alive in a moment. It’s wakes us up to say “hey, look at that. Have you ever noticed what a miracle life is? How complex, profound, contradictory and perfect?”
I keep little pockets of beauty in my memory. They drive my work and who I am.
Here are 8 of them. Some of them I heard years ago, but I keep coming back to them like a camel who travels miles and miles only to loop back to the same watering holes.
It’s what provides me with sustenance and direction no matter how far I go out:
1) “Once you learn to discern the voice of Mother Culture humming in the background, telling her story over and over again to the people of your culture, you’ll never stop being conscious of it. Wherever you go for the rest of your life, you’ll be tempted to say to the people around you, “how can you listen to this stuff and not recognize it for what it is?” ― Daniel Quinn, Ishmael.
This passage literally changed my life.
I didn’t understand it immediately, but once the meaning of it dawned on me, it was as if the clouds parted. It refers to how much of what we think and believe is conditioned by society. That, if culture says so, we’ll take it as truth unless we make a conscious effort to identify what’s true for us. Mass culture has a certain perspective: Buy stuff. Play by the rules. Get a good job, get married, have kids, retire. Keep up with the jones. This is how the country was founded. This is how we think as a Nation. This is what’s right, this is what’s wrong.
Culture is a powerful thing, and the stories we tell contribute to culture every day. It’s important that we develop our awareness so we’re proactive in the co-creation of culture and not just reactive to it.
2) ‘You can’t take on the responsibility of the world and fight every cause. The only thing you can do it pick your cause and trust that others will pick there’s too”
A friend told me this when I was having a melt down in my 20s.
I just learned about the horrors of sweat labour, sex trafficking, institutionalised racism, etc. and was overwhelmed on what to do and how to make a difference. Her response was poignant. Rather than get paralysed, decide what matters and go for it. Then support others in making their difference too.
3) “If you feel like you need to be in control, that’s when you are out of control. If are truly in control, you are okay with feeling out if control”
My girlfriend said this to me 3 years ago and I still think about it. It’s some Yoda shit that changed my perspective on trying to overly control my reality. Freedom is having full faith that every moment is as it should be.
4) “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; […] so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt.
It’s easy for us to stand on the side-lines and critique and judge.
So many of us end up freezing, not doing anything because we’re too scared of what people are going to think. This always reminds me, that courage lies in taking action, standing up for what you believe in, and picking yourself back up no matter how many times you fall. And to ignore the critics who stand on the side lines.
5) “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”
― Jim Morrison.
The Doors were the sound track of my early 20s. Their music influenced who I am entirely. They inspired me to explore, delve into mysteries, read, expand my mind and contemplate what freedom really means. This was the first time I ever contemplated what authenticity means.
6) “Life is like the tide. The waves come in, the waves go out. The ying yang. The only certainty is change.”
It reminds me of the scientific law that ‘Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. It can only be changed from one form to another”.
Everything in life is about the energy changing form: life to death, thoughts to actions, actions to outputs, outputs to inputs. It’s the law of the universe.
Time has no relevance in the grand scheme of things. We are limited to reality as we perceive it. There is expansion in our world and progress, but really, its energy on a course of transformation.
We worry about the world, but really, the world will always be okay.
It’s only our attachment to our reality and human story that causes the fear. Humans and species are always being wiped out and recreated, and that’s life. There’s a balance in having reverence in what we’ve created while not getting too attached. A kind of blend between Buddhist philosophy and life on blast in the material world.
7) “Let me explain. The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is.” – Harry Potter
Dumbledore said this to Harry Potter when explaining how the mirror reflects the heart’s true desires. JK Rowling really got me with this one.
When you are truly happy, your sense of self will be enough. It will be your source of happiness.
How heart achingly beautiful is that?
8) Love conquers all.
Because when everything is stripped away, Love is what matters most.