Fri, 14 Oct 2011 20:07:59 +0000

I seem to write about beauty at the most inopportune moments. Last year, it was at 2 a.m. on a work night. This time, it's in the midst of midterms and on the heels of a deadlines for another piece — one that will likely draw thousands of more eyes than this one. But this is important to me.

Beauty is something we can't have. And more and more, I'm realizing beauty is something we can't create. I go to an art school, and I try with each project to create something tangibly beautiful. But it's just never there; I can't seem to take pieces of unbeautiful things and make them beautiful.

But then I encounter something beautiful, like a man singing Christmas carols in early October with a rich baritone voice, and I wonder why it is beautiful. And I realize that, while he has a gift, that in itself isn't beautiful. The beauty happens when it enter my brain and triggers something that makes me feel pleasant and pleased. Beauty isn't about a solitary object; it's about relationships between subjects; it's about ratios and juxtapositions and solubility.

This is a fancy way of saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I think that phrase requires nuance. Because people like Da Vinci created things that resonated with many people. So what is beauty?

I think about this every day because I have chosen a life that requires me to consider what people consider beautiful, and what people don't consider beautiful. And this is what I've found.

While writing about people, I find that beauty is something we can harness. People and their stories resonate with us. And we can capture that, and that can be beautiful.

While designing for the less fortunate, I found that beauty is the act of being empathetic — in deeply understanding other people, yet knowing that you don't ever quite understand someone.

While writing about sports, I found that beauty is taking short moments to realize how you fit into the whole — how your small, inconsequential work feeds into a bigger machine that creates communities, friendships, livelihoods and triumphs.

A lot of things in life are not beautiful; in fact, most things in life aren't — and we complain about those things. But like I said before, beauty is about the relationship between subjects; it's about ratios and juxtapositions. So, by definition, the things we find especially beautiful are abnormal. They are the outliers; they are the blue-green orb in the midst of an always changing, yet mostly empty universe.