Surrender to beauty

Above: Michelle Obama photographed by Annie Leibovitz for American Vogue

When you see a beautiful image in a magazine or book, what is your first instinct? Do you immerse yourself in the image? Savour it? Imagine what it might feel like to be in that space?   Do you zero in on aspects of its composition – its silhouette, colour, textures, use of line – critique it? Or do you immediately think to yourself: “ I like it. I want it. How/where can I get it?”

My personal opinion is that society, for many years, has been more concerned with the latter of these instincts.  The focus is on acquisition.  Possession.

When I encounter this behaviour, I often think of Coco Chanel’s famous quote, “elegance is refusal”.

I believe that her famous quote rings true. We do not need to possess all that is beautiful in the world to be beautiful ourselves. In fact, many things look best in another context. Consider women’s fashions: there isn’t a woman alive who does not look better in one silhouette versus another, or who, when wearing a particular colour, looks ravishing, while that same colour can make another look dour.   Let us appreciate beauty where it rests.   Take a breath and simply enjoy it rather than plotting how to steal it.

Grace Kelly.jpg

Grace Kelly

Let’s be in the now. Savour the moment. Be grateful that we are there to witness the beauty at hand. It is for us and for all who view it to enjoy. We are basking in its glory when we stop to take it in.

One of the beautiful things about the internet is that we can enjoy so many gorgeous images. In some cases, we may see more beauty in one hour than our ancestors may have seen over several years in their lives. We now are fortunate to be able to view beautiful photographs of our cosmos that would not have been available a century ago. We cannot possess these celestial bodies, but we can marvel at their beauty and take pleasure in that.

So often, when at a party, at the office, or on the sidewalk, when we see someone wearing something that we like, the question all too often is, “where did you get that?” rather than, “that sweater looks lovely on you, it really brings out the blue in your eyes”.   Rather than thinking of how to take (planning on copying, possessing), why not give (a compliment about the person, not just the object).   A compliment is so much more meaningful than an observation. Saying to someone, “your hair is up today”, or “you cut your hair”, leaves the recipient unclear about the intention behind this remark upon a statement of fact.   When one says “your hair looks great”, it makes the recipient feel good and gives them the clarity to thank the compliment-giver for their kindness.

As Bill Cunningham says, “he who seeks beauty shall find it”.  Go out there today and see what beauty surrounds us.  And be kind!  When you see beauty in the form of a person, let them know – it will brighten both of your days.

My questions to you:

  • Where do you tend to notice beauty most often in your life?
  • What forms of beauty resonate with you most deeply?
  • Has anyone ever complimented you on your style, your taste, or some other aspect pertaining to beauty? If so, what was said and how did it make you feel?

Music – the great connector

Air (band) playing in 2010.

Music – the great connector.  Not just for connecting to others, but to oneself.

As I watched a YouTube video (an interview), I listened to the man being interviewed talk about passion and being led by what makes you come alive.

As I set about a logistical task I need to complete today on my laptop, I thought I’d put some music on – something I notice that I have not done often in a long time.   As I sit here listening to “Femme D’Argent” by Air in the background (one of my favourite songs), I remember something I know very well: that I am deeply moved by music.  Isn’t everyone?  I don’t know for sure, but I do know that music that resonates with me REALLY resonates with me.  It as if I feel across time (past, present, future) all at once.  I feel my experiences at a deep, core level and I am often very moved by the rhythm, the melodies… sometimes the lyrics, or even just the sounds of the words uttered.

Music to me is a great connector.  One of the greatest connectors we have in this world. When absorbed in music, we lose ourselves from our thoughts, our fear…. we just are.  We are present. Perhaps music can be meditation for some, especially instrumental music.  There are no worries about money or power or status when one listens to music.  We are all united in this moment of emotion – whatever emotion that song emits.  No interpreters or translators are required, even when those of us listening are from different countries or speak different languages.  The banker is no better than the truck driver.  There is no hierarchy.  No separation.  Music unites.

This particular song – Femme D’Argent – has a deep element of nostalgia to it.  It makes me imagine times before I was even born, but for which I have an impression formed by family, friends, books, magazines, television programs, and movies… I feel transported.  It takes me back to the person who introduced me to this song and the city I was living in at the time.  It reminds me of other past experiences in my life.  It makes me reflect on my current state and where I’ve come.  It makes me hope for the future, and at the same time, it can make me think nothing at all… just feel.  A feeling that by listening to this song, I am connecting with my true self.  It feels honest and I feel at home and at peace.

I love that the composers/creators/musicians of this song are French.  (As you may have noticed from the title of this blog, I have a love for the French language and culture.  Being connected to French culture is something that brings me joy.)

To me, this song is creative, beautiful, nostalgic, elegant, and pure.  I love it!

How do you feel about music?  Is it something that inspires you creatively?  With what type(s) of music to you connect most deeply?

What is your personal experience with creativity?

Do you ever feel alone in regard to your personal style, aesthetic or taste?  Either in the sense that you feel your taste is unique and unlike others in general, or that those in your immediate circle – i.e. friends, family, and/or coworkers, do simply not share it?  Perhaps others appreciate, and even compliment you on your style, but they seem to not understand your style references or know how to evoke your style in a way that you actually like (in the case where you are relying on them to execute something like a party or even when presenting you with a gift).

It is upon reflecting such questions and thoughts (among many others) that I considered creating a blog to discuss musings of this nature.

If beauty and creativity interest you, please let me know how you feel about such things in the comments section below.  Do you intend to express your creativity in a new way in 2016?  Or perhaps you plan to explore something new related to beauty this new year, yes?

If beauty and creativity interest you, please let me know how you feel about such things in the comments section below.

Here’s to a year of exploring the great pleasures of life!

p.s. Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss is a work that I consider to be the meeting of creativity, beauty, and elegance.