Thursday, March 13, 2008

Creating beauty

[An update: My grandmother is sleeping a lot and eats just a bit of applesauce; my mom flies out on Monday to be with her. Hope I didn't cause confusion by using the word "remember" there at the end.]

My Aunt Bonnie's comment in my previous post about her mom - my grandmother - always trying to make things beautiful stayed with me as I went to sleep last night. My grandmother has - or had, since they recently moved from the home where they spent most of their lives - a beautiful garden in their back yard, that I remember being full of apple trees and grape vines and roses upon roses. And an old sundial that I would often stare at, trying to figure out just how it knew what time of day it was.

Creating beauty is hard to me; I often feel like the world is in a constant war against beauty. I think this is because in order to create beauty, we have to become vulnerable, and the world - for the most part - cannot tolerate vulnerability. I'm reminded of the parents of the girl with Down syndrome who are having her undergo plastic surgery to make her more "beautiful," or less vulnerable.

I try to create beauty with these little talents that I have. I love art that both shatters and heals. Films like Lost in Translation, Magnolia and A Little Princess do this well. Bad art, which I would argue is what Crispin Glover makes, only serves to shatter; while he hopes that tearing away some of the false selves that we live with is enough, he only leaves us broken, alone and despondent. Good art heals us; I think The Office is an excellent example of this; laughter is an awesome elixir. It sure "heals" me.

And then there's great art, the kind that makes you weep and laugh in the same breath. The final embrace in Lost in Translation is, to me, great art. More recently, any single frame from the film The Diving Bell and the Diving Bell inspires wonder, hope and longing simultaneously.

One of my favorite paintings is New York Movie by Eward Hopper. (Click on the link - go on, live a little. :) ) The vibrant colors and the joy of going to the movies fill me with life, but the loneliness of the woman reminds me of my own aloneness. Sorrow and hope, the shattered and the healed, all in one frame.

I hope you create some beauty today. And remember my grandmother if you do.


Kim Ayres said...


waldenhouse said...

We talk about beauty and vulnerability a good bit around my house too. Along with imagination and creativity and how we go about cultivating these things in our three boys.

Your grandmother's garden sounds serene. I'm glad you are "back" Tom. Oh, and the painting? Beautiful and it filled me with sorrow.

Lori said...

We are praying for your family. I found the painting very moving. Thanks for the link.

Tricia said...

I loved this post. There is much to think about in it. (And you've mentioned some of my favorite all time movies.) I have been thinking a lot about beauty and creating a beautiful space. And organic growth. And honesty. I don't know if that makes any sense at all, but your post reminded me of those things I am grappling with.

Brett said...

On the beauty theme, here a couple of Marsilio Ficino quotes that captured me:

God created us for the limitless alone.

The nature of love is this, that it attracts to beauty and links the unbeautiful with the beautiful.

And I am (again) with Kim on the hugs. There is nobody like our grandmother.

Tom said...

Kim: Appreciate it, man.

Walden: Let me know how your three boys are responding... :) And I think I'm "back," but not sure who is "back." :)

Lori: Thanks, and glad you liked the painting.

Tricia: Glad you dug the post. And good to know that you have such good taste in movies. :) Being perfectly honest on a blog is tough; some people can't hack it, as I've painfully experienced.

Brett: Thanks, man. Now I'm going to have to go and Google Marsilio Ficino. :)