Whenever I think about how I can mature my perspective on life, I invariably default to the darker aspects of human life. Trying to find a silver lining. Because often these ugly truths are something we avoid at all costs. Yet I’ve found such deep insight in them.

Though, this underlies an assumption that the most poignant realizations I can come to, are ones that form out of these bleak truths. And only when I confront them to extract that hidden beauty, can I continue to grow.

But recently, and somewhat reluctantly, I’ve made more an effort to try and appreciate just… beauty. Not hidden in brokenness, not discovered through pain and struggle and strife, but just pure, clear, uninhibited beauty.

I’ve been so preoccupied with the motions of my life. With responsibilities, financial burdens, stress, to-do lists, that moments of peace are hard to come by. I’m always going going going. And in many ways, I’m proud of this.

It seems like the only times of “peace” I have nowadays are when I mindlessly scroll through social media for quick hits of dopamine. Or when I’m forced to wake up early to walk my dog, only to catch myself with a dumb grin at how adorable she is. Or when my wife gets home from a long day of work, and I stop for a moment to just take in how much I appreciate and love her.

And then it’s back to real life.

I feel I’ve subconsciously built up an aversion to appreciating the kind of beauty that comes naturally to us as human beings. I’ve been scarred by my idealism and optimism. I haven’t wanted to risk building up another naive way of looking at things. Rose colored glasses and all that.

Though, it seems in doing so, I’ve only painted a partial picture of what life really is. If my true intention is to discover truth, it has to be an integration of the two. The obvious beauty and the hidden beauty. And who knows, maybe it’ll be healthier for me if I can focus more on the former.

Nature, music, community. Courage, love, kindness. Cat memes and clips of military kids coming home to mama. I can’t get so wrapped up in “the grind” to not appreciate a big reason why this is all even worth it in the first place. To cultivate, create, and appreciate the beauty of human life.

February 27, 2020
March 12, 2020

Josh Swanson