Beauty: The Light that Illuminates Everything

Andrea - San Luis Obispo, California
Entered on April 15, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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“Gunman ’lying in wait’ kills 3 Pittsburg officers.” “Horror visits immigrants’ place of solace.” “Israeli forces kill armed Bedouin teen.” These days the news seems to mainly shed light on the messiness and ugly violence that plague the world. I believe that our world is more beautiful than it is given credit for. I believe that nature’s beauty is underappreciated despite its grandeur. I believe in the power of humanity and that, as a whole, people are good.

Beauty is dynamic; it takes on many forms and varies from different perspectives. Whether it be in the crisp contrast between white fluffy clouds and the painted blue sky or the smear of color playing on the ocean’s surface at sunset, beauty is anything but shallow. My eyes have yet to see the African plains dotted with native wild animals, the glassy, warm waters of Australia, or the lush, green hillsides of Ireland, but I still look around me and find that anywhere I am, there is something to be amazed by.

Born and raised in Southern California for the first eighteen years of my life, I grew familiar with the environment around me and thus began to take it all for granted. The canyon that my backyard overlooks is home to furry creatures of all sizes, tall oak trees, plants, and a sometimes turbulent creek; it feeds into a small saddle shaped mountain range. The trees stretch their branches towards the sun, the wind carries the birds’ songs through the air, and the continuously shifting shadows dance across the ground.

I looked out onto that scene most days of my life, but never truly appreciated the majesty of it until the destructive fires of 2007 and 2008. Harshly colored flames licked the hillsides and devastation swept through what once was green and full of life, leaving behind it charred land and homeless people and animals. I watched in dismay as this wild force tore through and finally understood the depth beauty has– magnificence lines the unpredictable power of nature. It is in the smallest veins of tree leaves and in the shiny coat of a mountain lion.

News spread quickly about the destruction taking place and the reaction was overwhelming. The community did not sit back and watch, but instead showed heart and got its hands dirty. I was touched as strangers offered up their homes to others and firemen from all over California pulled double shifts with little rest. People passionately and persistently gave support through prayers, words of encouragement, and money donations. I felt their amazing love and found that my faith in humanity grew deeper.

Although I will never see the exact same scene before me, life is already creeping and crawling back into the picture and lives are being restored. Crisis reveals the willingness and desire of Man to reach out and help those in need, but as I look harder I know that this want is constantly there. From a child who picks up and returns a wallet to its owner to visitors in the hospital who keep patients company, people are good. The news touches on this, but it is more tangible and recognizable in everyday life through those around me. Awareness of the beautiful side of friends, family, and strangers alike makes every day better as we share in the splendor of the world around us.