Yes, another post already.  You see, the feet don’t have quite so much ‘work’ to do at the moment, so it is the turn of the hands, for a (possibly short) while at least.

I wrote something about ‘beauty’, or perhaps more specifically the absence of.  Well, last night something of true beauty touched me deeply inside, and got me thinking.

Instead of running around in circles for 24hrs, I was still here in this small mountain village, where we were treated to an incredible (and free) concert by the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, together with the University of Lund Student Singers. This was all due to the immense generosity of a local jeweller’s shop and long standing English (sometime) resident. You see, we really have no need to go down to a ‘city’.

I was sitting there with mixed emotions (having had those other plans). The music washed over me, I stopped thinking and I was just immersed in the moment.

The music had an piercing beauty.  Something to do with the genius of the original composers, something to do with the passion of the ‘players’ (and singers), and perhaps also just a little something to do with the receptivity of the audience. Don’t ask me what all the music was, I’m no connoisseur, I have no head for remembering titles or names, I just know when something tugs at me deep inside. I do know, however, that amongst the programme was the most exquisitely moving rendition of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons that most of the audience had ever experienced.

Beauty comes in many guises.  Sometimes we find it in the hidden corners, or the most unexpected of situations:

– the compassion in the kindness of a touch, gesture or word from a good friend

– sharing moments with friends who know the ‘you’ that the world doesn’t always see

– a piece of writing, some music, a work of art, a photo that so perfectly captures that fleeting emotion

– a ‘blue sky’ day in the winter mountains where, in the fierce cold, snow covered ridges stand in stark relief against a deep blue sky, a beauty so intense that it is almost too much to bear

– giving life to a child

– creating ‘community’ around you

– stars in a clear night sky

– the happy laughter of a child, the smile of a stranger

I recently came across some writing by a good friend that bowled me over in its elegant composition, its honesty and its power.  That is what hits you, and hits you hard.  You know when a friend has created something special.

You also know deep down when what you are doing is something special (or not, as the case may be).

Both can send shivers down your spine.  And both are a beautiful thing.

Watching somebody doing something well, is a gift.  Whether it is in the baking of a loaf of bread, the making of a cup of coffee, the playing of a piece of music, the writing of an essay, the washing up of a cup.   So, yes, some might tend to inspire us more than others. But witnessing anything done well (or with full attention or awareness) has the power to provoke us to also put our full effort into whatever it is that we have to do.

You can see beauty when an athlete is an absolute master of their craft, and executes an elegant race with passion (perhaps epitomized by Kilian Jornet amongst many others).  But, you don’t only see beauty there.  You see it also in the middle of the pack runner who sacrifices so much to get to the start line, and to finish. You see it also in the courage and determination of the back of the pack runner who has to dig deep to make it to the end. First or last is possibly irrelevent (particularly in ultrarunning where prize money is a rare reward!). What matters is that you are searching for your ‘edge’. For each of us our edges are in a different place, and those places are constantly changing. But the search to find them teaches more about ourselves.

We just have to remember that at different times during our lives, beauty will have a different expression, we will find different ‘edges’ to explore. The pursuit of excellence, of mastering our craft (whatever it might be), will be realised in a different way.  This can take us from passing exams, to being buried in work, to winning races, to climbing mountains, to nurturing relationships, to sustaining friendships, to creating community, to giving, to taking ….

Go and find what lights a sparks deep within you. Be inspired. Do what you do with love, passion and integrity. Then it will be beautiful?

Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time.”  Albert Camus

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” John Muir

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