Philosophizing With Confucius
Confucius once said, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
Walking down to my bus every morning, I am witness to beautiful and unimaginable spectacles. The green grass sprouts in perseverance, day after day. Street lights shine on the impenetrable darkness, flickering in incongruous patterns, bringing truth to the obscurity. Turning down my iPod, I listen to leaves dancing together in the breezy dawn sky. I believe in the power of hidden beauty, waiting around every corner for everyone to discover it in all its modest glory.
Once while exploring in the Swiss Alps with my grandparents, I began trying desperately to capture everything that the natural utopia unveiled with every step. Shadows of tumbling clouds fell across my view of a luscious valley, and I cried out in frustration as a gloomy picture replaced a brighter one. Gazing off, I spotted something that I had not noticed when the sun’s pounding waves had reached far and wide- a waterfall spilling toward the terra in a cool, mysterious stream. I quickly snapped a picture and learned to search for the hidden magnificence in something as dark and gray as a shadow because its splendor is often overlooked. This shade of darkness is so resplendent in how it willingly becomes overshadowed by its proud counterpart, beckoning spectators into its tunnel of inscrutability.
A shadow would once more fall over my life when I attended my first funeral. It was for a man I had never acknowledged and now, never would become acquainted with. He had been the husband of a woman at church, but then acquired cancer. During the long service, I became enlightened about the man’s life, his passion for the Red Sox, and his love of purple. As the candles began to dim in their diminutive places, we were asked to stand to sing “Amazing Grace.” As my mouth opened to the words “how sweet the sound,” my eyes moistened and fell fortuitously upon the woman marching steadfastly next to the coffin of her late husband. In spite of the mourning and bereavement, she wore a rich purple dress with flowers twirling up the side, leading to her pale arm, which supported a drowsy little boy, with a Boston Red Sox hat tilted on the side of his head. Grief surrounded me, and only after it had settled could I finally see with my heart, not eyes, the brilliance of families’ love in the midst of gloom, supporting a loved one not long gone.
My innocent eyes became shrouded with the ashes of ignorance yet again. No matter how much I yearned and struggled to understand the September 11 hijackings, the tragedy behind it languished inside my unblemished conscience and screamed for acknowledgement. No matter how much I coaxed my parents, they just would not let me out of that living room that day. As my brother had told me, “It hit them inside in a place that they didn’t know existed.” Five years later, I found myself sitting in front of a picture that personified that day’s emotions. Peering into the still photograph of a man on a street stoop, I noticed the dust from debris that had settled all around him. His eyes were almost hollow and on the corner of the tight lines of his lips sat a lone tear. But then, there were his strong calloused hands, which held his head up, and seemed to support his whole body that had barely escaped and barely admitted defeat. The exquisiteness and grace in those hands show real beauty, a beauty that will survive for an eternity because it exults in strength. A man could live forever in sorrow, but like a phoenix, a human rising from the ashes is mankind’s greatest glory.
Hidden beauty is just that — hidden. It will never become flashy and will never boast. I take comfort in knowing that whenever I am down, I can always find beauty, even in this world of malevolence, greed, and deceit. When there ever comes a time when I have forgotten, I will remember the words of John Keats, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever; its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.”
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