A beautiful life
We are coming up on another anniversary of this blog and you may have noticed I am freshening a few things, little by little. I thought it was time for a new look, reflecting my green commitment and love of nature, as well as a restatement of what this blog is really about. In the past year, I have been lucky to welcome many friends to this community and to have joined yours. Let me address the reason for this blog, once again, and what my main purpose is in life: seeking true beauty, in you, in myself, and all around us.
It is easy to misunderstand this concept and so I want to briefly explain what I mean by ‘a beautiful life’. I hope you know immediately that I am not referring to secondary personal characteristics. This blog is not a showcase of attributes for which I can take little credit or with which I was gifted. It is not a vanity site where I show off. It is about making my life matter, caring for others, helping to move the world forward in whatever way I can. It is about finding and nurturing the beauty in life. Not to wax too philosophical here, I would contend that the grand unifying principle of this universe is all things strain toward beauty. I will be talking about this more and illustrating it in my next post on a tangential topic.
That means, too, that I strive to concentrate on all those aspects of existence that represent the highest ideals man has discovered through inspiration, divine and otherwise, or through stumbling ahead over the long course of our history as a species, some two-plus million years.
Despite the ills that often plague humanity today, and with which it is all too easy to identify and dwell upon (I am guilty of focusing on these myself sometimes and I struggle to put them in their rightful perspective, even so), there has been progress as I have stated repeatedly here. I hope that fact and my recognition of it are not lost in the rhetoric on problem solving to which we are all prone, especially those of us who are active social critics.
It is interesting to listen to the candidates for President and see how they frame the current debate. One of the many reasons I like Mrs. Clinton as a leader and as a person, is the fact that she so rarely demagogues and instead seeks to inspire us to what we can all be, individually and collectively. Just this week, Mrs. Obama did the same when she addressed a school for girls in a disadvantaged neighborhood in London. Both these women look to the future, encouraged by their own past struggles and the help they have received that put them on the path to their ultimate success. Mrs. Clinton astutely cited a key difference in life approaches: some people upon reaching the higher rungs on the ladder, turn around to pull up those behind, others pull the ladder up behind them.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. — Philippians 4:8
In contrast, Mr. Trumpet focused on the failings of others, while inflating his own merits. Those adults who perpetually aim a rose-colored spotlight on themselves suffer immaturity and sometimes, the disorder of a fragile sense of self.
I just finished reading a biography of Ava Gardner. What was emphasized over and over again was how breathtakingly beautiful she was with flawless skin, perfect face, glorious figure, graceful and beguiling movements. Along with Hedy Lamarr and Vivien Leigh, she was and still is the most beautiful woman of the modern era. But, Ms. Gardner rapidly dissipated as a human being once immersed in the celebrity culture of her time. Hers was not a beautiful life, and it ended prematurely. I would rather possess the increasing and enduring beauty in Eleanor Roosevelt, than in any Hollywood confection. None of those glamorous stars will end up on the ten dollar bill!
This past weekend, Geoffrey and I decided to drive up the California coast to enjoy the ocean and its misty spring days as an offset to our now hot and dry weather. We forgot for the moment about the crude oil leak in May, in the Refugio preserve. It was all too evident, as you can see here. What was really remarkable, since we drove about 3 hours north, was that the toxic sludge stretched for dozens and dozens of miles up and down the coast.
Some of these pictures show the clean-up crews that have been working for weeks to try and save the creatures and plants that once enjoyed a safe and pristine existence, protected by the rising cliffs hovering over the sea all the way to Oregon. The beauty of this coastline has to be seen and felt firsthand to comprehend. That any company or individual could be so reckless, cavalier, and selfish as to jeopardize its care is beyond mind.
What struck us too, was the name of the road that follows this coastline northward: El camino réal, the true path.
We found a lot of beauty nonetheless and consider ourselves fortunate to live in a state that does have a conscience, whose citizens are aware and responsible people, for the most part, with a Governor who reflects the same sensitive values as the most progressive among us.
California is a gorgeous, bountiful place, suffering perhaps from the consequences of a changed climate, both natural and political, and the actions of others beyond its boundaries and control. But for me and for this blog, it serves as the perfect template for considering all the ways in which the world can and should be beautiful, and what I can do to make life a joy and a pleasure, for myself and for others.
So, this blog is an extension of my personal convictions, pretty evident here over the past two years and all the topics I have covered, some distasteful, others more lighthearted but always with analysis, solutions and action in mind.
Plato also spoke of the three ideals: truth, beauty, goodness. I hope I convey my commitment to all three here. And an open embrace of all the lovely people who stop by and contribute. We have established a group of friends, all caring, thoughtful, mature and supportive. My aim is to keep improving, listening, sharing, and learning and in that way, beautifying this space and the broader community as much as I am able. I want all of us to enjoy a beautiful life.
And we will not have it, any of us, if we do, or if we support those who do, unbeautiful things.
That is the meaning of the tagline, and the new artwork honoring a New York artist who along with the other Hudson River painters of his day, celebrated that lovely and fortunate region, where I grew up, in a manner that perfectly symbolizes what our interior and exterior lives could be, if we would only seek to find and foster it.
Images: BB/El Camino Réal, Highway 101 – The pictures show various times of the day when the mist rolls in off the Pacific Ocean and is held over the coast by the mountains that march along the shore. They also clearly reveal the toxic sludge from the recent infamous oil leak caused by the negligence of the Plains All American Pipeline Corporation, for miles up and down the beaches. Clean-up crews lined the road for much of the way, and in one shot you can see one of the boats that was off-shore vacuuming oil from the sea floor, still, over one month later.