Seeing Beauty, Not Seeking It

Maya - Denver, Colorado
Entered on October 13, 2007

This summer, I traveled halfway across the country to Northern Minnesota, where I gazed at the silhouettes of thin reeds as the sun set over Lake Kabekona. I traveled all the way across the country to the far tip of Long Island and stared at the city lights across the bay. But in all our travels outside Colorado, I never saw anything that meant as much to me as the views we found right here just by lacing up a pair of hiking boots.

A sunrise hike showed me Red Rocks amphitheatre for the first time. I felt like I was in a dream. Maybe this was because I was awake at 4:30 a.m., but mostly I think it was the way the brand-new sun turned the red rocks into gold, and how the birds made it sound like a tropical rainforest. I never expected that so close to my house. God’s Eye Rock provided another breathtaking view. This beautiful formation was discovered and named by a group of six-year-old campers at Indian Hills. For this reason, being there made me think of purity and the way everything I saw was untouched and natural.

At the hut we stayed in while backpacking, I read a collection of journal entries written by Henry David Thoreau in 1838. My dad likes to bring this collection with him on all of his hiking trips. Thoreau is one of my historical “heroes” because his vivid ideas inspire me. I came across this passage from an entry written by Thoreau when he was 20 years old:

“Such is beauty ever, neither here nor there, now nor then, neither in Rome nor in Athens, but wherever there is a soul to admire. If I seek her elsewhere because I do not find her at home, my search will be a fruitless one.”

This isn’t one of his more famous quotations, but these two sentences are powerful to me. I read them over and over, each time admiring the clarity of the wording. I try to picture one of today’s 20-year-olds writing this in a journal. Either Thoreau was brilliant for his age, or times have changed.

I believe there is beauty everywhere, waiting patiently for someone to take notice. I believe that we must be sensitive to the world’s details -love, creativity, and beauty -in order to keep faith in the face of the world’s uglier details: injustice, deceit, and cruelty. Of course I understand it may be easier to become sensitive to beauty when we live in Colorado – there is so much appreciate here. I try not to take my surroundings for granted. I believe that wherever you happen to live, you don’t have to look for beauty; you just have to see it: it’s the difference between living fully in your world, or merely passing through it.