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A bias for beauty

Black Iris Project

This morning I woke up earlier than usual by mistake (I thought my watch said 5:00, but it was before 4:00). Early wake up just increased my awareness of the quiet stillness at that time of day. In this stillness I noticed my bias towards beauty. For me, beauty inspires wonder, tenderness, and care. These are not merely pleasant experiences, they are restorative and I believe, necessary for survival.

In browsing through todays news articles, I came across an article about Jeremy McQueen’s Black Iris Project -- activism that involves fluid movement and storytelling through multi-genre dance. The Project's latest creation focuses on the broken juvenile justice system where,

Black American youth make up 41% of incarcerated juveniles — despite accounting for only 15% of the overall youth population.

In reading the article I was struck by McQueen's response to this and other stark and devastating realities, in his desire to Black and brown people the beauty of how their lives can be reflected in art, and how matters that they care about can translate into performance

For McQueen, noticing beauty in the human stories of black and brown people is essential to survival, a source of strength, resistance, and the capacity to bring change and social transformation. It moves people:

Black Iris Project has received accolades from their believers and expressions of gratitude from individuals impacted by the prison system — responses that speak to the efficacy of using art to evoke both emotion and change.

Lifting up beauty as an act of resistance, and a creative force for change.

I went back to reading "Wabi Sabi-Japanese Wisdom for Perfectly Imperfect Life" by Beth Kempton. Central to illucidating the experience of "wabi sabi" is paying attention to ways that ever changing beauty is simply present and available to us as a life giving, restorative, and healing force.

“...wabi sabi is not a panacea. It’s a reminder that stillness, simplicity, and beauty can help us fully inhabit a moment in the middle of anything....”

I realize that I am biased. I always choose to look for opportunities to lean into the subtle and awesome forms of beauty that surround, even in the midst of sorrow and pain. They restore my sanity in the face of the world's ever present madness.

After my morning reading, I briefly watched a news channel covering the anger of the trucker protests in Canada, fueled by the insanity of a fight for freedom without responsibility; and the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, with Putin's use of violent conflict, war, and death to fuel his ego, supported by the likes of Mike Pompeo and Donald Trump's praise of his leadership destined to bring death and destruction.

We live in a time of division, faced with choices of how we see the world. Among the few biblical quotes that stay with me, I recall Deuteronomy 30:19:

...I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

Beauty is life. Anger fueled violence is death.

I seek out quiet moments to lean into absorbing beauty, for my own survival, and I believe, the survival of us all.

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