The Pursuit of Beauty

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

dsc_0203-1The other day I was thinking about my time in Seattle so far. I was sitting in bed, in my tiny apartment, drinking coffee, and listening to the same album I regularly listened to in the mornings when I was living in North Carolina. I thought back on that year before I moved to Seattle remembering what it was like to dream about moving to a new place, wondering what my life in Seattle would be like.

And it’s funny how things are never much like how you dreamed they would be. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved my time out here so far. Moving out here somewhat satisfied an itch for living in a new place and a thirst for some adventure. But after living here for a couple years, everything feels pretty ordinary again. It’s like it satisfied some thirst for adventure, but it didn’t satisfy me fully. It’s like I only caught a glimpse of the fringe, but the thing itself slipped away.

I had a similar feeling once when viewing a sunset. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen. My neighbors and I were drawn outside by a world that had turned to varying shades of pink and orange. Even though the beauty of the sky was overwhelming, I still was not satisfied. I wanted to look deeper and deeper until I saw something more.

I don’t know how to word it exactly, and I’m sure you’ve felt it too, but it’s like I have this desire to pursue beauty, perfection, and all that is right with the world, and when I see something that gives me a glimpse into that, I desperately want to hold on.

I think artists know this feeling well. It’s like we’re trying to capture each and every beautiful moment, and maybe if we string them all together then we’ll have a vision of the whole. But it never happens; we only find bits and fragments, and we are devastated when we realized that the fragment is only a fragment and not the thing itself. But even so, the pursuit continues.

It continues because the pursuit is just as much a part of us as being human is a part of us, and I think it’s a very good and wonderful part of us. It’s the part of us that longs to see goodness and perfection in our world. And I think it’s good as long as we don’t pretend like the bits and pieces we find are the thing itself, expecting them to fully satisfy our desire for beauty. They are only markers and signs that point us to the real beauty that we cannot grasp with our eyes or contain in our minds.

If we were to see perfect beauty in our current state, we would probably not be able to stand in it’s presence because of the ugliness and chaos warring in our own souls. I think having a full vision of this goodness and perfection would ruin us, and so we chase the fringes and get glimpses and bits and pieces. And right now, I’m okay with that because they remind me that the greatest adventure is still ahead, and one day, with my new eyes and new body, I will finally and truly see beauty.

“…when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.”