The great Chinese thinker and social philosopher, Confucius, is attributed with saying, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” There is much truth in this little maxim, and I find that it is becoming more and more real to me as I diligently seek Goodness. I also have a friend who has helped me see this truth more clearly, my neighbor Ray.
Ray would call himself an average guy. He is a good husband, an involved father, a hard worker, and an all-round good fellow who likes to laugh, has a keen wit and a serious sense of humor. But Ray also has a hidden talent. You wouldn’t know it just by looking at him, but Ray has an eye for beauty. He can recognize conventional beauty with no effort, but unconventional beauty is his specialty.
I found out about this hidden talent when Ray decided to use his adept photography skills to do a “Picture of the Day” series several years ago. I immediately signed up to see his daily photos because I thought it was cool for him to be taking this creative journey. I couldn’t wait to see what he came up with. The first year was amazing – nature, architecture, shadows, children, scenic beauty and an occasional offbeat surprise. I loved it and usually “got” the concept he was going for. Sometimes the best part was his clever tag lines like, “A Diamond…Someday” tagged to a picture of broken chunks of black coal. I looked forward to each installment. When he said he was going to do it a second year – I was elated. I was really taking hold of the “seek beauty daily” idea at that time and his work was helping me practice that.
The second year was cool, but more offbeat – abandoned buildings, a ketchup bottle, a grilled cheese sandwich, broken forgotten stuff. Now some of these pictures were clearly opportunities for Ray to display his superior sense of humor, like five fire hydrants locked behind a chain link fence with a tag that read “Set them Free!” Other pictures – I just didn’t get. They were things I never would have even noticed, much less photographed, a wall socket, and a rusty doorknob, paint splattered on concrete, an old drainpipe, and chipping paint on an old window. At first I just thought, “…must be a guy thing.” Then I thought, “no, it’s Ray – I mean, come on – caved in drywall in an abandoned house = picture of the day??” But overtime I began to see little things like the symmetry, or the colors. I saw into the pictures. I felt the mood, saw the shadows, heard the story behind the object. I opened my eyes and my mind a little wider and took in more.
Now, I have no idea if Ray was trying to communicate anything deep or profound with these pictures, but I do know that he saw more that just junk. It is clear from the composition of the shots that he saw a kind of beauty. He saw more than meets the eye. He used his lens to capture a feeling or a thought. He was interested in his subjects even if they seemed ordinary or mundane. I came to really appreciate the photos; even if they were not always my idea of beauty – I came to see the beauty in them and beauty in the way Ray had captured them.
“Goodness sees into the heart of things and finds their beauty”
A “Good” Idea:
Take time today to look at something mundane in your life – try to find the beauty in it. Let us know what us “see.”