If I were asked to speak of this planet’s natural beauty, it would be impossible for me to do so without mentioning Utah. In fact, it would be the first place to spring to mind. In my opinion, Utah is the epitome of breathtaking beauty; due in part to its layered plateaus, vast openness, and weathered rock formations that stand like mythical creatures reaching for the sky. Wind, water, and erosion have carved its landscape over millions of years, leaving a terrain that ignites all of my senses—my heart, too.
The point of this article is not literally how to get to Utah, as much as the title would suggest. Nowhere in the content will you find, “take the I-40 to here, and then turn south to there.” The road that I wish to share with you is actually a mystical—even magical—inner way of processing life; one that I hope will encourage you to cast aside limiting definitions, open your mind to amazing possibilities, and facilitate your ability to sense a greater degree of the beauty that surrounds us.
To find beauty, we must first realize that beauty is.
This may seem so incredibly obvious, but it’s important to investigate our own interpretation. We need to realize that beauty is actually a subjective—not objective—reality. As such, it is uniquely personal. What appeals to one person may be totally unappealing to another. Margaret Wolfe Hungerford obviously realized this when she penned “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
If we doubt the verity of her quote, we may gain understanding by examining my view of Utah. If I find Utah beautiful (and if beauty were, indeed, objective), shouldn’t everyone, therefore, find it equally beautiful? Obviously, this isn’t the case. To those persons whose heart quickens as they gaze at the rolling waves of ocean, Utah will be sorely lacking. Likewise, for individuals who find beauty in the sweeping grain fields of the prairies, Utah will again miss the mark. Beauty is, indeed, uniquely defined by the observer.
How, though, do we find beauty? The first step along our personal road is to fully accept that beauty is within us.
Until we do, we’ll be incapable of sensing it fully in the world without; or at best, our view of it will be highly conditional. Seeking beauty objectively (without connecting with it first within) almost always leads to stress and disappointment. For example: the Grand Canyon might only be considered beautiful when the sun is shining, the number of tourists within certain limits, or the timing of its viewing just so.
When we embark on a journey, it’s important to know what to pack and what to leave at home; and our journey to Utah (aka Beauty) is no different. We’re all aware that carrying useless articles is a waste of time and energy. For our trek to beauty, I politely recommend leaving behind the cumbersome trunk labelled “my day must unfold this way.” By doing so, we “resist not” and more easily align with life as it unfolds. I also suggest leaving behind the suitcase stuffed with needless judgments and definitions; the ones that bellow that beauty must look like this—not that. The reason is simple: If we carry our narrow and limiting beliefs, we exclude so much of life that is beautiful in its own right.
In place of these, I advise packing a suitcase that has room for a broader perspective. When we carry this type of suitcase, our senses open to a much grander and more inclusive definition of beauty. We are, thus, enabled to see beauty in a raging snowstorm; hear it in the innocent giggles of a child; taste it in a simple piece of bread with butter; feel it in clean sheets; and smell it in the fresh cold air of a winter’s day. We’ll also sense beauty intuitively; perhaps in a subtle glance from a relative or friend that conveys unconditional love.
A small but important bag to pack for our journey to beauty is one related to expectancy. When I used to depart on my long solo motorcycle trips, I had plenty of time to think. During such times, one of the affirmations I repeated to myself was I see beauty all around me. The importance of this should not be lost. I was actually attuning my mind to alert me to the beauty that already exists, waiting to be discovered. And sure enough, I found it. I found beauty in the less-than-perfect motel in which I stayed, owned and operated by an aging couple who were still giving of their lives to provide pleasant accommodation. I found beauty in the simple but nourishing food I ate in a small restaurant, prepared by a cook working diligently to serve me the best meal possible. I also found beauty in a fellow traveller, who kindly said “nice bike” while walking past me at the gas pumps.
An added bonus of realizing that beauty exists within us is discovering that nothing has to be done to create it. It appears as though magically, through a change in our attitude. The dust that we might have previously judged as a hindrance to the beauty of a perfectly clean house is now recognized for what it is—simply dust. The same holds true for the long grass that needs to be mowed, or the pile of wood that must be split. Does this mean that we should drop all of our intentions and never again dust the furniture, mow the grass, or split wood?
Of course not; it simply means that when we perform these tasks, we’ll be able to sense beauty in all of them—and feel grateful for our ability to do them. Less will be taken for granted, and more will be appreciated. We’ll be able to see beauty in life itself, as it unfolds through us moment to moment; whether performing a task, holding hands with a loved one, or riding a roller coaster. And, therein, we’ll discover another benefit of viewing the world as beautiful from the inside out; namely, peace. Let it be.