This post is an entry in the 2nd Stratejoy Essay Contest. Throughout the next month, we will be featuring each finalist writing their answer to the question: What would your TED Talk Be? On September 13th, we will open the voting to YOU, our community, to select the winner of the $500 prize.”
*THE BEAUTY OF UGLY*
There is so much in the world that we perceive as ugly- visually, politically, culturally and emotionally, among others. If we take the time, however, to slow down and open our minds, we’ll have the opportunity to look beyond the rough exterior and see the beauty that lies just under the surface.
Visually speaking, this means when you see something that looks broken, tattered or crumbling, don’t just pass it by with your nose held high. Slow down to really feel what it is you’re looking at. As a photographer, it’s these moments where I see so much beauty. In the street corner after the rain, I see two-toned pavement, where the sun-dried area converges abruptly with the dampness that’s still lingering. Mixed in with the two-toned shading are specks of white from rocks poking through the asphalt, the valleys and crests creating an almost mountainous texture. Throw in a random super plant that has burst through the cracks, and you have incredible color & texture coming together.
Another opportunity to turn what some see as ugly into beauty is a lawn full of dandelions. To many, this is an annoying weed that must be sprayed, killed and wiped out. Instead, I see a vibrant yellow flower, intermingling with the greenest of grass, living out its short life until it evolves to the softest of white, ready to ride on the waves of the wind.
Politically, we’re never all going to agree, and this can cause the worst in people to come out, but it can also be a moment to see the beauty in those standing up for what they feel is right. Passion, deep and soulful, can be felt radiating through those around them. It’s a beautiful thing seeing people, from all walks of life, come together to hold each other up and let the world know they have a voice.
I have this desire in me to travel. Not vacation, but travel. I want to really learn about our neighbors on this planet. I recently watched an Oprah episode where she travelled to India. On her first day there she went to the slums to meet a family. At first glance the slums are crowded, dirty, loud and a shock to the system if you’re not used to it. It’s a culture vastly different than our own. As I watched, however, I was brought to tears. Because once we get past the exterior of the different looks, foods, smells and sights, they have exactly the same goals as we do: to support their families and live the best life they can with what they have. We are all exactly the same, despite the differences in our cultures and language. It’s so easy to see someone who is different than we are, either in dress, language, body movement, religion and so on, and just move on to the next thing, not even seeing them. I challenge you (as I challenge myself) to move away from the stereotypes, first impressions and judgments, and see the soul. You’ll come away with many beautiful moments you’d have otherwise missed.
Emotionally, when we’re in a sad, upset, dark or angry place (or see someone in that place) we tend to want to run. It’s not a pretty place, but it most certainly can be beautiful. After the hard, deep, gut-wrenching cry is over, there’s a calm that settles over you like a blanket. It tends to only come if you’ve allowed yourself the opportunity to really get down and dirty in the dark. When you come out the other side, there’s rawness in the newly opened space, which allows for peace to move in. It’s not easy to come to this place of peace, but when you’re able to, it’s a beautiful moment space to be.
When you have a friend who is going through a hard time, if you look beyond the complaining and/or crying you will be able to see the vulnerability in her soul, and that she is allowing you in. Trusting you to be her support. When you realize this, and really see her, feeling your connection to her pain, you can come to see the beauty in her vulnerability, and not just the red blotchy cheeks with tears.
Our lives are so fast paced with an “I want it now” attitude. If we can allow ourselves to slow down, take a deep breath and look through the “ugly”, we’ll be able to breathe in, if even for a moment, the gift of beauty. Start small! The next time you’re driving through town looking at a boarded up shop window, stop and challenge yourself to find something beautiful about it. It just might change your day.
Candace is a wannabe world traveler living outside Chicago in the cornfields with her husband and crazy-ass “children” Coconut (German Shorthaired Pointer) and Kitty (or Cat, when she’s a brat). Currently perfecting her latte art at a local coffee shop, she’s also a photographer, bachata/salsa lover who’s working out the next step in life (whatever that may be), learning that the Universe, not she, is tuly in charge.
*This post is an entry in the 2nd Stratejoy Essay Contest. Throughout the next month, we will be featuring each finalist writing their answer to the question: What would your TED Talk Be? On September 13th, we will open the voting to YOU, our community, to select the winner of the $500 prize.*