We spend too much time focusing on the ugly in our culture: political partisanship, the latest celebrity "meltdown," and the fall from grace of the next disgraced politician. Most of us are (and I certainly have my moments) are also chronic complainers - about our jobs, our car that's going to cost a grand to fix, and that neighbor that leaves their car parked on the street right in our reversing path.
There's not much room among our cynicism and negativity for God-given beauty, is there?
That's why I love going to the local lake, which some would call a pond, to get out on my stand up paddle board. Mr. Laird Hamilton I am not (more's the pity!), but it's a great total body workout and, more importantly, the lake is a lovely, calm spot with no cars or concrete. I saw a heron in the flesh for the first time this week. Two actually, balanced on long spindly legs, nosing around for fish in the shallow water. I complain vigorously about the lack of natural beauty in Kansas, and yet I'm eight minutes' drive away from the sound of water playfully skipping under my board, a rainbow of wild flowers on the bank, and, of course, my new feathered friends. I should celebrate every opportunity to get out there by myself after work, or with my wife and kids at the weekend. The latter is a particular delight - the boys are unconstrained in their wonder and delight when playing on the tiny beach where we launch the boards.
I am also making an effort to bring more beauty into our home. My good friend Mr. Antony Spencer won the British Landscape Photographer of the Year in 2010, and I'm privileged to have two large prints - one of dawn light streaming through a forest onto bluebells, the other a panorama of a frozen lake in Norway - hanging in my house. I want to see the world through his eyes, to share his appreciation for the natural wonders on each of our doorsteps (a lot of his best shots are taken our home county in Dorset, England), and , most importantly, to celebrate beauty more while putting ugly out of mind.