One of my favorite stories is from Brenda Euland’s book, If You Want to Write. She describes an event with the artist Vincent Van Gogh:
“When Van Gogh was a young man in his early twenties, he was in London studying to be a clergyman. He had no thought of being an artist at all. He sat is his cheap little room writing a letter to his young brother in Holland, whom he loved very much. He looked out his window at a watery twilight, a thin lamppost, a star, and he said in his letter something like this:
‘It is so beautiful I must show you how it looks.’ And then on his cheap ruled note paper, he made the most beautiful, tender little drawing of it.”
She goes on to say that after reading about Van Gogh, she understood something about art and the creative impulse. She points out that they originate from a feeling of love and the desire to share the with others, not to impress but out of generosity and to inspire.
That statement, “it is so beautiful I must show you how it looks,” has become my own touchstone. The way I see it is that beauty isn’t just an artistic quality that's aesthetically pleasing but more importantly, beauty exalts the mind or lifts the spirit.
We’re living through a time where it’s easy to get overloaded with bad news and even worse predictions. But there is something we can do to help ourselves and others shift our focus, get grounded and find some measure of peace and well being.
When we turn our attention from what may be scaring us (after we've done what we can to stay strong and healthy), we're able to recognize what’s right in front of us. And so much of what's in plain sight has that beauty, that power to lift our spirits, whether it’s simply the coming of Spring, green grass, birds singing or the pleasure of a homemade meal shared with family.
We all can find moments of joy and connection despite whatever else is going on. And if those moments have the power to raise our spirits, it’s a pretty good bet that they will do the same for others, if only because you’re pointing in a direction that others can see for themselves.