Life is beautiful when you’re seventeen-years-old spending your summer in the south of France. On one of the last days of my study abroad program in Nice, France in the summer of 2008, my friends and I stumbled across a jewelry and art market. While wandering around we found a ring stating, “la vie est belle” and instantly fell in love. With it being the end of our trip, we were all low on cash and none of us bought it, although we always wished we did and continue to use that phrase to describe our trip. Life was beautiful. Of course, it was.
A few days earlier we were sitting on a train after a day trip to Italy when two Australian guys jumped on with guitars. Not long after the guys boarded the train, they fiddled with their guitars until it developed into “The Tide is High” by Blondie. The guys started singing, my friends and I started singing, and gradually others joined until the whole train was singing. Strangers from all different countries singing together on a train with views of the Mediterranean—life doesn’t get much more beautiful than that.
Before that trip, I had never really thought about life as a beautiful thing, but since seeing that ring, I have thought about it often. Through the combination of my exploration of beauty and the process of losing my mother, who passed away from cancer this June, I realized that life can still be beautiful even in the not so obvious times. I’m not talking about finding the silver-lining or searching for the light at the end of the tunnel. Those are useful ways of finding beauty, but they require effort and are sometimes impossible to find in the midst of a tragic moment. The type of beauty that I’m referring to does not take any work on our part to experience. Instead, it envelopes us quite naturally and uncontrollably and all we have to do—are able to do—is stand there and take it in. We can choose to just accept and acknowledge the beauty, or poke, prod and analyze it like artwork in a museum. I’m still not sure which option is more valuable, but since I’ve made this discovery, I’ve found myself dabbling in a little bit of both.
Sometimes a situation truly and honestly sucks and sometimes the worst thing you could ever imagine happening to you, happens to you. It doesn’t mean every moment of it isn’t beautiful. Take losing your mother, for instance. And not just her actual death, but the process of losing her both quickly and slowly at the same time. Continue Reading…