Over a year and a half ago, I completed my book, Stop Depriving the World of You. Within that book, I wrote about the importance of looking for collateral beauty. Little did I know it would strike a chord for so many people as it did for me.
Fortuitously, but reluctantly because of the mixed reviews, I went to the screening of the poignant movie Collateral Beauty. I cannot tell you how profoundly the theme impacted me, which is the reason I inserted it in my book.
What is collateral beauty? From what I surmised, within times of the unspeakable happening, we must search for some beauty to help us continue on the topsy-turvy journey of life.
As the movie demonstrated, life can unexpectedly bring on the most agonizing of events. They are almost unthinkable, and people deny that events of such magnitude can happen to them. If dire circumstances do ensue, however, darkness can prevail for a very long time.
Often, the wound can be so searing that recovery feels bleak. When the heart has been shattered into little pieces, looking for collateral beauty is unimaginable, but eventually, one must if they are to survive.
Most of us who have reached a certain age have experienced some unfairness in life. I, like many of you, know the feeling. Being endowed with excellent health and vivacity, I remain forever grateful and never take such precious gifts for granted.
In addition, I have been very loved throughout my life, but due to envy, a distorted narrative, and the complexity of a rather unusual situation, I have paid a very high price.
Like many, I occasionally get mired in the sadness of this injustice, but within a short time, I rebound and remind myself of blessings which continue to unfold. Thus, my pursuit of collateral beauty resumes.
Where do we find collateral beauty? Sometimes, it is simply being grateful for awakening in the morning. Other times, it is looking around at the treasures offered during our lifetime.
A beautiful memory – cuddling an infant or young child who graces you with a priceless smile, petting a beloved dog whose tail doesn’t stop wagging – can be collateral beauty. Without sounding cliché, smelling the roses should not be taken for granted.
Paying attention to the universe’s gifts of unique sunrises and sunsets as well as ephemeral rainbows must be heeded. How about a beautiful song which touches your soul or just makes you want to dance? What about a good book which may prompt a new idea?
Most importantly, remind yourself of shining acts of kindness. Sometimes you do not know about the far-reaching impact such actions may have at a later point in time. Again, I write about this as part of the butterfly phenomenon.
Even if they influence in the short term only, such acts of collateral beauty should remain close to the heart.
When you receive, collateral beauty may be experienced as if an exquisite flower has just blossomed. When you give, however, collateral beauty often dazzles in ways which cannot be put into words.
Recently, an iconic historical symbol of the glory of western civilization burned down. Many of us had the opportunity to visit Notre Dame at some point in our life.
As it went down in flames and darkness emerged, collateral beauty rose again through the spirit of the people who are determined to rebuild the cathedral. Later in the week, the Jewish and Christian community celebrated events which brought collateral beauty to their lives.
The Jewish community came together for Passover, a holiday which symbolizes God through the instrument of Moses providing exodus of the chosen people from the shackles of slavery.
The Christian community paid homage to God who sent his son, an unassuming man, as a beacon of hope and salvation for all of humanity. You might say both celebrations are reminders of collateral beauty from long ago but have lived on through the ages.
During the midst of darkness and futility, looking for collateral beauty may seem inconceivable. With that said, often, all it takes is a flicker of light to permeate what appears to be perpetual blackness.
In those very difficult times, that glimmer, which may seem so small and insignificant, can offer us the very collateral beauty we need to rouse again.
What difficult times have you suffered recently? Have you been able to find collateral beauty in their wake? What symbolizes collateral beauty to you? Do you continue to look for it? If not, what do you imagine would help you do so? Please share your thoughts with our community.