On Friday, Barrie and I suddenly decided to visit the Westonbirt Arboretum. It is a beautiful place which, in Autumn, becomes stunning. I went expecting it to be beautiful, and I began taking photos, but realised after the first few that they were the same as all the years before.
I’m a bit lazy with a camera, and don’t move to find a better view. Barrie often tells me that there is always a better photo three feet from where you are standing. So I started to look for beauty in different places. I tried taking photos from from different angles, and from inside the cascading trees.
It was an improvement on the ordinary photos that I’d taken in previous years, but it was still just the same trees from slightly different angles. I wanted to see something different.
Suddenly I saw something different. It wasn’t a tree or a bush from any angle, it was fallen twigs, leaves and petals, in varying states of decay, and it was all around me on the ground. I saw it when I consciously looked for something beautiful in a different place; when I changed my perception and stopped looking at the obvious. I found it where I would never usually look for a photo and for me, that reflected a life truth.
Beauty is not always found in the obvious places. I have seen beauty in the eyes of a person whose body is wasting away in death, and I have seen beautiful attitudes in the midst of the slums of Addis Ababa.
There is obvious beauty in the rainforests, but there is beauty in the desert. There is beauty in the work of a professional artist, but there is beauty in the first attempts at a painting by a child.
In the words of Confucius,
Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.
If we want to see beauty in everything, we have to look for it, and sometimes, we have to look past the obvious.