Beauty is largely a matter of perspective. Most people can appreciate a healthy forest or meadow full of tall trees, lush greenery, and vibrant flowers, but consider it an imperfection when one dead tree blemishes what would have been a fantastic landscape scene. However, beauty can be found by zooming in. Close to a dead tree, one can see it has become a home for insects, bacteria, and fungi. Mushrooms and molds make beautiful mini-forests themselves. Death is a part of life. Seasonal cessation and renewal makes life more interesting. It’s all a matter of perspective.
A scene full of dead trees can look good, but one dead tree among many live ones stands out as if it does not belong – especially if it leans at an odd angle or has a glaring asymmetry to its remaining limbs. It has to do with balance. In cases such as this, I find it helpful to imagine myself observing from very far above, seeing the dying, broken, and diseased parts of the forest scattered about artistically. I find the balance and the beauty by zooming out.
It is not only the natural world that holds beauty. Cities can be beautiful. Close-up, cities look to me haphazardly thrown together and unbalanced. Buildings of different shapes are mixed in among cranes and telephone wires. Lanes and road signs are often painted in ways that don’t make sense. They are polluted and ugly. Zoom-out, however, and they start to look like alien forests. Instead of growing through cellular division the way maples, pines, and oaks do, skyscrapers are pieced together from smaller bits by hard-working humans and machines – similar to the way proteins are built in ribosomes by RNA and other proteins. The process is just as interesting.
Lots of people hate finding litter in the forest. I’m not necessarily a fan either, but the existence of litter is evidence of previous use by Homo sapiens, one of the most interesting species on the planet. Other animals mark their environment by chewing on trees and damming up streams, building hives or nests, digging burrows, leaving footprints, or leaving behind the remains of their last meal. Digestion is fascinating and our beautiful world would not be the same without it. One has to expect its byproducts. In the same way, one has to expect the byproducts of human civilization. If litter still bothers you, do what I do and imagine each piece as an alien sea creature. See what ideas you can come up with.
Even civilizations-gone-bad can hold some beauty. I’m no fan of apartheid or communism, but their existence shows the myriad forms that human society can take and still function. I like to think of civilizations and ideologies as competing and evolving just like colonies in a petri dish. Just because my own ideology compels me to fight such things, doesn’t mean I can’t find some enjoyment in learning about them.
Anything real has beauty and all truth is beautiful. What of fiction? I love to think of all the different forms reality can take but probably doesn’t, whether they are serious scientific theories or ridiculous situations from fantasy novels (or comedy skits). Even if none of these things ever happen in the real world, they are still able to be held in the mind and encoded by the brain somehow. They leave their marks on our existence. Thoughts are part of reality and every bit a legitimate subject of study. Psychology is interesting, too.
Besides, how do we know this world isn’t just a dream we are having where the current rules exclude such things as remote viewing, time travel paradoxes, and curses of bad luck? There is no way to know for sure that we aren’t asleep right now. We can only experience things through our minds, so it is only our minds and our thoughts that we can be sure are real. It doesn’t sadden me too much that my comics are fiction, because in at least one sense they are just as real as anything else.
I still struggle with some things, however. When I am unable to write, or go exploring, or rest long enough to collect my thoughts, I can’t always see the beauty in the variety of things. When I feel better, I see that these times of up and down are an unavoidable consequence of progress. Beauty is everywhere, even in the inability to see it. Life is never static; only death is. Unfortunately, this explanation only partly satisfies, and when I am down, nothing can satisfy me. I still have more to grow.
Valentines From God
Finding Adventure Close To Home
How To Find Interesting Things
How To Find Things Interesting
What To Do When There Is Nowhere Left To Go
Thoughts On Play
Thoughts On The Natural And Artificial Worlds
Thoughts On Thought
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.