Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Quest for Beauty

My life is full of routines. It's a must really. I depend on routine in order to be certain that important things are accomplished. I function best when I have a schedule. It is far to easy to become complacent and lazy when I don't have a clear view of what needs to be done.

But when life becomes routine, even when busy, it is easy to lapse into a different form or complacency. Things become mundane, and beauty is lost. I may not be the girliest of girls, but I do have an appreciation for beauty, and a need to experience it in my life on a regular basis.

Recently, I have become enamored with the blog of a friend of mine that I met in Hong Kong. We weren't particularly close, but we attended the same church and hung out together in groups. But I never really got to know her well. As most people realize, Facebook has made it possible to connect with the people you never really got to know very well, or knew once upon a time, but lost track of. A post here and there pops up, and occasionally leads to a new development in that relationship. This is one of those cases.

I started reading her blog and found myself transported to a world where beauty still exists. She posts beautiful pictures, and writes about lovely things. Something about going there just feels lavish. I needed that. Just a little jolt of something more to remind me that life in this moment is precious, and there is still beauty in this world.

I drive a lot these days. It takes about an hour to get to work one way. On most evenings, as I exit I-5 and head onto 99, I pass a man holding a sign "Laid Off, Now Homeless. I want to work. Anything helps." The patterns of my life, the routines of my existence, have taught me to be high suspicious of such people. I know there are jobs out there to be had. They might not be dream jobs, but they're better than standing on the street. I know there are organizations designed to help people in such situations. Churches, homeless shelters, etc. go out of their way to serve the least of these. I also know that a large number of these people just want to score easy money to support their detrimental habits.

The truth is, I've seen at least three different men working this intersection. One is young and his posture reeks of cockiness. Another is probably in his late fifties, and seems more suited to a motorcycle than anything else. The the third man has always had a look about him that made me wonder...

One of my chief concerns is to avoid enabling people like this to continue down a destructive path. I won't hand out money. But the other day I was parked only a few from him, and I knew I had an orange in my bag. So I rolled down my window and called out to the man, "Would you like an orange?"

His response was immediate, and his gratitude clearly evident. "I would love an orange," he said with utmost sincerity. He walked over to the car and I handed it to him with a smile. The truth is, we aren't flush with money right now in the slightest. I could have used that orange. But the beauty I experienced in that small gesture was truly explosive. He returned to his post and slipped the small orange into his nap sack. I rolled up my window. The light turned green, and as I began to roll forward he made eye contact and mouthed a silent "Thank You."

My eyes flooded with tears as I moved on. I don't know how he ended up on that corner. I don't know what he really needs to get himself into a better place. But he took an orange from my hand, and passed beauty back to me.

There is not enough beauty in the world, but if you open your eyes, it does still exist, even on the worst of days.