Finding Interruptive Beauty in The Everyday
“Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.”— Andy Warhol
A young woman steps out of darkness into a pool of bright light, looks to a hushed crowd and begins. “There are things we say when we catch the eye of a stranger or a neighbor walking by. We say, ‘Hello, how are you? It's a beautiful day. How do you feel?’ These sound kind of meaningless, right? And, in some ways, they are. They have no semantic meaning. It doesn't matter how you are or what the day is like. They have something else. They have social meaning. What we mean when we say those things is: I see you there.”
“I'm obsessed with talking to strangers,” the New York City-based “stranger enthusiast” continues, laying out the origins of her social experiment in finding beauty in the interactions we have with strangers. “I make eye contact, say hello, offer help, and listen. I get all kinds of stories. About seven years ago, I started documenting my experiences to try to figure out why. What I found was that something really beautiful was going on. This is almost poetic. These were really profound experiences. They were unexpected pleasures. They were genuine emotional connections. They were liberating moments.
“When you talk to strangers, you're making beautiful interruptions into the expected narrative of your daily life – and theirs.”
Beautiful interruptions. What a lovely description of everyday moments that can strike – and move – us with their beauty.
Like Stark, we can also practice the art and possibility of seeing beauty in the everyday and most ethereal aspects of living. She asked a new kind of question that prompted a new experiment in finding beautiful interactions among strangers. So can we.
How much richer could our lives become by cultivating a practice of looking beyond the “skin-deep” when we hear the word beauty? By seeing, hearing, listening, and feeling the world through a new set of filters?
We'll be coming together on Friday, March 10 to do just that. We'll spend a night at X Factory - a community of women seeking a deeper and more intentional conversation with other women - sharing stories about beauty and coming to understand the many facets and frameworks of beauty.
In a wonderful passage from her book "Becoming Wise - An Inquiry Into the Mystery and Art of Living," On Being host Krista Tippett recalls her conversation with the late Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue, and his more generous and expansive definition of beauty. "Beauty isn't all about just niceness, loveliness," he says. "Beauty is about more rounded substantial becoming...an emerging fullness, a greater sense of grace and elegance, a deeper sense of depth."
“Naming beauty in all its nuance in the moment-to-moment reality of our days: beauty is that in the presence of which we feel more alive,” said O'Donohue.
So what makes you feel more alive? What stops you in your tracks and fills you with awe? Is it, like Stark, creating a chance encounter with a stranger in the market - or noticing how a beautiful piece of music transports you beyond time and place? Do you find beauty in science or physics or a perfect mathematical equation?
Could a new mindfulness about beauty provide you with some respite from the fractiousness of our current modern lives? Might it expand your sense of possibility and wonder?
Maria Popova, the brilliant and prolific journalist/founder of Brain Pickings, once reflected that "Life, even at its most difficult, is a scavenger hunt for beauty."
Where will you search for it today?
X Factory is a global movement and community of women cultivating a more connected life.
Join X Factory in Rhode Island on Friday, March 10 for an evening’s conversation about beauty. Four stories exploring the many facets of beauty, and an intimate community of women sharing their vision, stories, and wisdom about beauty in our world.
To reserve a seat, go to www.debrawalsh.com