We rarely pay attention to the plain and simple things in our world. We notice the flamboyant, the extravagant. Who would not notice a sunset such as this? “Wow! How beautiful!” we might say.
Yet the smallest of particles are responsible for the stunning sunset. You might say they are responsible for its performance. These tiny molecules change the direction of light, causing it to scatter, resulting in the brilliant show of color. The value of the sunset, like the value of a person, is found within. But when we look at either of them, we don’t consider what’s ‘behind the scene.’
In fact, not many want to be ‘behind the scene.’ We are attracted to the flamboyant, to famous people who appear large on the stage of life, such as musicians and actors, and reality shows about so-called ‘real’ people. We fantasize about being like them, without considering their fleeting popularity.
I think this is because we have a very shallow understanding of our world and the crucial place each of us holds in it. We look into the lives of those we mistakenly see as more beautiful or more important, to measure our own lives — which we may consider very small, and not beautiful at all.
So what is truly beautiful?
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss psychiatrist and pioneer in near-death studies, said, “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
The idea of beauty and importance dealt to us by ‘the big screen’ is misleading and short-lived. The beautiful sunset lasts only a while–until the smallest of particles and molecules come together again to bend the light and cause another momentary spectacle. It’s what is inside the sunset that gives it beauty. It’s what is inside us that gives us our beauty, too.
True beauty is often found in what is not noticed, but nevertheless crucial to the meaning of life itself. So, I’m taking another look at all flamboyant passing things. I’m taking another look at the fleeting sunset, and at the people flashed onscreen to us as perfect. I want to consider the more permanent performance of beauty behind those scenes. Will you join me?