There is beauty, some find, in everything you can lay your eyes on. There is beauty in the grass, in the sky, in the trees, and in the buildings. There is beauty buried underground and tucked away in the clouds. There is beauty in a book – not a book on a Kindle, but a book with bound pages that can caress your fingers when you turn the page. At least, that’s how things were. But today, it seems that everyone is moving so fast that they don’t stop to see these things. People are too wrapped up in electronics to bother with a book or with a face-to-face conversation. People are too busy to notice things anymore. People don’t notice real beauty. People don’t appreciate “the little things” that the world has to offer.
When I walk places, I admit that sometimes I am in a hurry. Sometimes the scenery zips past me and I don’t take a second to look. But other times I leave earlier than I usually would just so I can stroll along and take in what’s around me. I notice when the little white flowers on the tree by College Hall bloom. I notice the pretty yellow flowers next to the library smiling at the sun. I notice which direction the tree branches move when the wind blows. I take my headphones out long enough to listen to the breeze whip past my ears. I take my eyes off of my cell phone screen long enough to see the tiny cracks in the sidewalk where the weeds grow. I take off my shoes to feel the soft grass underneath my feet.
Others, however, don’t seem to get much personal gain from this. They feel the breeze, I’m sure. They feel it, but they don’t feel it. They don’t let the wind hug them; they’re more concerned with how it affects their hair. To them, it is just an annoying rush of air. To them, it isn’t beautiful. They don’t see the perfection in a gush of wind that wraps itself around you and chills you for a brief moment, then slips away through your fingers. They don’t appreciate the wind.
I have been told that reading is back in style, but then I see people doing their reading on a Kindle. Sure, it may be convenient to have many books on a small device, but there isn’t beauty in it.
When I was young, and sometimes even now that I’m older, I would climb into a tree with a book tucked into my waistband until I found the perfect spot to sit and read. I would sit and feel the pages with my fingertips and soak in every single word. If the book managed to escape my grasp, I’d just climb down, snatch it off the ground, and go right back up and continue reading. I would stay in that tree until the sun went down and I no longer had a natural light to read from; sometimes, though, I would just take out a flashlight and read a little bit longer.
Today, that scenario is just not realistic. The battery of a Kindle will die, and you’ll have to go trap yourself behind four walls to charge it. If you drop a Kindle, it very well may break and you won’t have anything to read. A Kindle is easily destructible. A Kindle doesn’t have pages to feel – just a cold, clear acrylic screen. The words may be the same, but they aren’t ink on paper. You don’t see the smears in a letter where the printer went a little wonky. There’s no beauty in it. You can’t write little notes in a Kindle the way you can in a book. You can’t pass down your Kindle the way you can a book. Books can virtually last forever with the right care. Books are heavy, and substantial, and beautiful. People don’t appreciate books.
With the creation of texting and online messaging, there is much less actual human contact. People can type words and backspace when they mess up. They can “sugar-coat” their words to say exactly what it is they want to. They can proofread and revise. However, in life, in a face-to-face conversation, mistakes can be made. There is something to be said about tripping over words and saying the wrong thing. There is beauty in a mistake. There is beauty in a person who is flawed and, therefore, realistic. There is beauty in the sound of another person’s voice and in viewing someone’s facial expressions. Human touch and human contact in general is beautiful. People don’t appreciate human contact.
It seems that every day there is less appreciation for anything that isn’t in the “now.” If it isn’t the newest electronic or the newest hairstyle, it isn’t worthwhile. There is something to be said about simplicity, yet there are few around to appreciate it. My title is misleading. This is not about the death of beauty itself – the beauty in these things will never fade as long as they exist – but rather the death of the appreciation of beauty. Better yet, there is a death of the realization of beauty.
Perhaps before it’s too late, more people need to slow down. More people need to take off their shoes and feel the grass. More people need to notice the tiny cracks in the sidewalk where the weeds grow. More people need to take their headphones out and let the wind whip past their ears and notice which way that breeze makes the tree branches move. More people need to notice the yellow flowers by the library smiling at the sun and the little white flowers on the tree by College Hall. It is important to feel the pages of a book and see where the printer went haywire. There needs to be a realization of these simple things. There needs to be appreciation of what the world has to offer in something that isn’t electronic – in something that isn’t the newest edition.
It’s possible to see the world through the eyes of more than just the lens of a camera phone. It’s possible to see everything for yourself; and not just see the world, but appreciate it too. Sometimes, the mental images are more important than the actual snapshot. Sometimes we need to stare and soak in what we see; we need to let the beauty completely overtake us, even if only for a moment. And with the world deteriorating because of our frugal lifestyles, everyone should take advantage of the beauty before it truly does die. Before the acid rain stops all the flowers from growing; before global warming doesn’t allow us to go outside without burning; before people go crazy and blow up a library; before people are too afraid of the world that they hide themselves away; and before we all give up hope in humanity itself, we need to just take a second, look around, breathe, and enjoy the purity before it’s tainted.