For me, any meditation on life begins with a deconstruction of the activity. The process of contemplating the beauty of nature is no different. Why are we drawn to nature? What is it about beauty, in particular, that is so captivating? Why is humanity, art, the environment, or the skyline beautiful, but the mundane (budgeting, a joyless job, the laundry) generally not? And for that matter, how do we define beauty?
One of the extraordinary things about human beings is the way we experience the world around us. We were gifted with senses, and each of these senses provides another piece of the puzzle that, together, creates the portraiture of existence. A remarkable event occurs, though, when one opens themselves up to the surrounding beauty, studying it while also absorbing it. They discover that although the puzzle pieces come together to form the whole, little gems exist within each piece. One can glean much from sitting alone in the dark, looking up at the dazzling stars while surrendering to the abounding stillness. But look close, and the astute observer realizes there is as much beauty in the glistening sky as there is in the absolute silence.
As I looked out of my driver’s side window, my kids in the back of the van dutifully watching Lion King while my wife sat in the car directly in front of me, a strange insight struck me. You could actually see the chill outside. This vision of cold did not come from snow or ice. No fog gently blanketed the flatlands. The sun was out, and aside from the bitter temperatures, the weather was unremarkable. Still, there was a pall over the country.
At first glance, this notion is not too surprising. Of course you could see the cold. In fact, this is such a common observation that it is often employed in small talk – “It looks cold outside today.” Such elucidations often lead to a greater conversation on recent weather conditions.
My observation, however – this revelation that arose during a quiet afternoon drive through the country, a drive that, by all accounts, should have been mundane – was different. I stilled my mind to study the landscape. I wanted to know how specifically it looked cold outside. Asked a different way, I wondered, what did cold, a sensation of touch, of feeling, look like?[TO BE CONTINUED]