I found this week’s set of images hard to focus on. To be perfectly frank, most of these images are from the same three days, which I suppose is almost half a week so I’m letting myself off the hook. With so many other technicalities of life to focus on, it can be hard to remember to try to find the beauty in the world, and for this I am not letting myself off the hook. Maybe that’s why so many Americans strap on fanny packs and spend thousands of dollars to fly to somewhere else far far away so they can do nothing but focus on the beautiful things that all the other countries have except ours. But that doesn’t seem quite right, now does it? Because one, there’s plenty of meat on the beautiful bones of America if people bother looking for it. And two, even when so many people spend all that money to go somewhere else, they come back exactly the same. And that’s not what beauty does. It’s just a matter of fact. Aren’t there so many fairy tales and fables about how the discovery of the beautiful princess changes the horrid evil prince into a benevolent lover and ruler? And besides that, why would all those architects and painters and sculptors spend all that time and energy literally perfecting the art of creating beautiful things if all we’re going to do is snap a picture and go home? That doesn’t make any sense.
So many people today spend their whole traveling experiences getting from one place to another, seeing this and seeing that. I spent a handful of days like that when I was traveling in Europe, and I have to say, they were often among the most unpleasant days I spent abroad. Sure I got to see the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre and the Notre Dame in one day, but I was so exhausted and hungry and tired and utterly spent just trying to make sure we fit it all in. There was nothing leisurely about it, and I like to take life at a leisurely pace. I’ll tell you why: with all the hustle and bustle, getting one place to another, go-go-go, there’s no time to breath. There’s no chance to look around you. With everything you see, you see absolutely nothing. There’s no time to grow, to change, and isn’t that the whole point we’re here? To see beautiful things on this world, to grow, change, learn what it’s all about. Notice the scruffy but lovely woman making crepes in the cart at the park. See that little group of youths who look like they could be the intellectual descendants of the nineteenth century French artists and writers. Smile at the dog gargoyle on the corner of the cathedral whose snout is eroded into nothing but a toothless gape from centuries of drooling rain water. Or the way the winter sun gleams through the branches of the leafless tree across the street. Aren’t these the gifts we are given? Aren’t these the truly important things that really are worth our time and energy? There are no excuses, because at the end of the day, we’re the ones who lose out, and at the end of our lives, we’re the ones who didn’t live.