The Thing About Beauty

Beauty is defined as a combination of qualities—such as shape, color, or form—that please the aesthetic senses. A combination that encourages an emotion or sensation rather than intellectual thought. Such qualities make up objects that are pleasurable to perceive, like landscapes, sunsets, humans, or works of art.

Something that is beautiful is something you want to look at or experience, like the singer featured in a school event during my first semester of college. One of my friends wishfully reflected that he’d paid better attention because he could only remember what the singer’s voice sounded like.

“Maybe that’s what God’s showing me about beauty,” he said. “You have to enjoy it while it lasts, then you just have memories of it.”

In Ephesians 5:15-16, we learn that “the days are evil.” They pass quickly. Isaiah 40:6b says “all flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.” This world and everything in it is temporal and will pass away.

Ecclesiastes 7 says it’s better to go to a funeral than a party because funerals remind us of the reality that we will all die. While this might not be a topic we would want to think about, Psalm 90:12 says that learning how to number our days will help us gain a heart of wisdom.

As Nathan Scott from the show One Tree Hill says, “It’s the oldest story in the world. One day you’re seventeen and planning for someday, and then quietly, without you ever really noticing, someday is today, and that someday is yesterday, and this is your life.”

This is also the nature of families, as a dying Enoch tells his friends in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “People come, so we celebrate, and people leave us, so grieve. We do what we can with the time in between, but the process is always the same.”

This state led Homer to write in The Illiad, “Everything is more beautiful because we are doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.”

Amanda Brown, the founder of Oh Beloved One, once shared about a time when someone asked her why girls like flowers if flowers just die. “But…aren’t we the same?” Amanda wondered.

“Why love someone if they’re just going to leave you?” Amanda asked. “Why try something if you just won’t ever get another chance? Our lives are flowers— it’s up to us to enjoy it, to stop and smell the roses while we can.”

“As you grow up, you will learn that even the one person that wasn’t supposed to ever let you down probably will. You will have your heart broken probably more than once and it’s harder every time. You’ll break hearts too, so remember how it felt when yours was broken. You’ll fight with your best friend. You’ll blame a new love for things an old one did. You’ll cry because time is passing too fast, and you’ll eventually lose someone you love. So take too many pictures, laugh too much, and love like you’ve never been hurt because every 60 seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness you’ll never get back. Don’t be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.”

— Unknown

There is beauty in brevity.

Monica Shulman, a contributor to the Huffington Post, wrote, “A wave will never crash against the shore in the same way, my kids will only have one birthday celebration a year, and the light might never touch a person’s face like that again.”

It is the responsibility of artists, photographers, painters, videographers, and others to capture this momentary and fleeting beauty. For the rest of us, to go back to what my friend said, we have to enjoy it while it lasts, because the thing about beauty is we’re not promised tomorrow.

It is not common to think the last time is the last time while we’re in the moment. It is our tendency to think there will be more, to think we have forever, but we don’t.

In the blink of an eye, everything can change. Sometimes there is no next time, no second chance, no time out. Sometimes it is now or never, so what are you doing with the time you have?

“Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.”

— Ecclesiastes 5:18

From that verse and other principles scattered throughout Scripture, I have four suggestions.

  1. Learn from your mistakes. Life is too short to be angry with yourself for being human. “Look carefully then how you walk,” Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
  2. Laugh long and hard until you have a stitch in your side and tears on your face. In the end, the best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spent laughing with someone who means something to you.
  3. Dance while you still have the health, randomly, on the street or in a restaurant dining room. Life is too short to be fearful about what others may think. In a Star Wars novel about Leia’s background, Breha Organa tells her daughter, “We won’t always have the chance to dance with the ones we love, so dance now.” 
  4. Love. Be kind. Forgive often. “You don’t have to move mountains,” Anita Krizzan said. “Simply fall in love with life. Be a tornado of happiness, gratitude, and acceptance. You will change the world just by being a warm, kind-hearted human being.” And never throw away a chance to say “I love you” to the people you care about. You may never have that chance again.

“I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.”

— Ecclesiastes 8:15

So savor every drop, feel everything deeply, and live each moment to the fullest. Then, in the words of Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” 🙂

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