I was instantly smitten and moved when I read about Jen’s Five Most Beautiful Things Project. What she says about the essential human need for beauty, and the power of waking up to realize that it is all around us, moved me deeply. Jen asks, what if we walked around looking for beauty instead of looking for things to be stressed about or offended by? She then challenges everyone to write down the 5 most beautiful things around them once an hour, and challenges her readers to make this effort, this active engagement with the outright gorgeousness of our lives, go viral.
I love this idea, and it speaks to me on a very deep level.
The search for the poetry that exists in every day life is one of the central tasks of my life. I’ve written endlessly about this, about the beauty that’s exposed when we lean into our lives, about the phosphorescently-bright moments of joy that streak days of monotonous, often mundane activity. It took looking closely at the weave of the fabric of my life for me to see the glint of that thread of meaning, of gorgeousness. It’s there. I promise you, it’s there. And it manifests, this beauty, in a thousand different ways, every single day.
Paying attention – the only real advice I have for writing and, in fact, for life – helps us see the shimmer of the sacred even in our most ordinary hours. There is real power in deliberately celebrating the beauty in our lives. For me, at least, the act of noticing and honoring this holiness has been nothing short of transformational. There is plenty of grit in my life, I assure you, of tears and raised voices and frustration and exhaustion. But I can’t look at those things anymore without seeing the grace mixed in too, and that irrefutable truth casts a light onto my experience of every single day.
What are your five most beautiful things? Mine, right now:
1. The framed charcoal drawing of Grace at age 6 months that hangs over my bureau. All it takes is looking at that to tumble down the long hall of memory to those early days of motherhood, when I was besotted and confused in equal measure, overwhelmed with both wonder and fear.
2. The sounds of Whit’s lullabye CD drifting through his door after he has gone to sleep. Every single note of the CD he’s listened to every night for almost 8 years is familiar, and the songs are suffused with memory. Often, they bring me to tears.
3. The smell of clean laundry, which has always been one of my favorite smells.
4. The few spare red leaves against the heartbreakingly blue sky that I noticed when I glanced up this weekend at the playground.
5. The taste of the green juice I just drank. I’ve come to absolutely love this juice (I make it myself, daily) and drink it every day. Don’t worry, I also drink Diet Coke daily. I remain full of contradictions.
Please share the five most beautiful things you can see (or hear, smell, touch, or taste) right now. I agree with Jen, that the practice of deliberately looking at the world through this lens can fundamentally alter our lives. Let’s all participate in that.
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