Tuesday, August 20

True beauty and the note of gentle sadness

From August 15-18, I was in a place called Sattal with 47 other young people from Delhi. We had a four-day camp in the monkey-filled jungle mountains; a place where the silence is tangible and the air is medicine to polluted lungs.  I met a number of new friends, but in my treasured moments alone I read a book, and I took pictures, and I broke in my new hiking boots on and off of mountain trails. Frogs and mushrooms and seedlings shared with me their reminders about the secret habitat that fosters life, and tiny self-contained ecosystems of moss-fostered plants which thrived upon stone drew my attention from the fog of discontentment to a sharp-edged clarity. There is something completely uncontaminated in the beauty of a place where the clouds roll in around and below you, and beauty is what led me to peace this week.

 “In all probability everyone is sensitive to beauty, although obviously some are far more so than others.

 Experience shows that even those who are apparently most prosaic are touched, even to their own surprise, by certain forms of beauty. The line along which this half-melancholy, half- magic touch may come varies enormously with different people.

 All poetry and music and art of every true sort, bears witness to man’s continual falling in love with beauty, and his desperate attempt to induce beauty to live with him and enrich his common life.

 True beauty always seems to bear with it a note of gentle sadness, sometimes very poignant…

 It is possible that beauty is a hint of the real, and true, and permanent; so that we feel without conscious process of thought, ‘This is what life should be. This is what is in reality.’

 It is possible that beauty is a kind of nostalgia – what Wordsworth would call an ‘intimation of immortality’.

 The appeal of beauty which is universal, however distorted or debased it may have become, cannot be lightly dismissed.

 We can at any rate say that beauty arouses a hunger and a longing which is never satisfied in this world.

 Both beauty and goodness exert an effect upon man which cannot be explained in terms of the world that we know, and to this we may add his search for Truth.

 Man reaches out to grasp more and more truth through science, philosophy, and religion, and yet – why should he? Why should he not rest content with what he has and what he knows? Why can he not accept death and evil and disease without worrying about them? Why does he, in all ages and all countries, reach out to find Something – something which will harmonize and explain and complete life’s bewildering phenomena?

 Arguing, as we must, from what we know to what we don’t know, we may fairly say that as food is the answer to hunger, water the answer to thirst, and a mate to sexual desire, this universal hunger for Truth is unlikely to be without its answer and fulfillment...

 however hard to find it may be."

J.B. Phillips, Your God is Too Small.

By the way, i found out after returning that in these very hills,
a girl was recently mauled by a tiger. 
Guess we can be glad the biggest living thing i encountered to
photograph was a toad, huh?
Love from Delhi,
Julie, singing the note of gentle sadness. 

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