"" bshawise: Reflecting on 1,000 Beautiful Things

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Reflecting on 1,000 Beautiful Things

I've been trying to reflect on this past week's experiment in chronicling beautiful things. What started off as a spontaneous idea ended up being a deeply moving experience. I spend a significant time criticizing things. It's part of my job. It's part of my learned background from school. It's one of my key strengths but also a frustrating weakness. So to be glued to my computer reading your lists of beautiful things was simply amazing. It was uplifting, eye-opening, heart-warming, nostalgic, hopeful, sentimental and meaningful to be a part of something that took on a life that none of us could've anticipated. So many times while reading the list I made this strange "hmm" noise to myself or said out loud, "yeah." I'm sure you did the same. Here's a few of my favorites.

88. A lazy game of H-O-R-S-E
131. the sound of rain on a tin roof
168. an unexpected letter
303. walking around bare foot, especially in summer with the grass between your toes
331. Hearing stories about when your grandparents were young lovers.
402. the good kind of tired - after working hard & being satisfied by it.
442. Cutting the perfect turn on perfectly flat water.
550. realizing my first reaction after scoring was to look up at the sky, at Heaven
5501/2. Bradley telling me I changed him into a soccer fan, or at least a soccer acceptor
790. "Hey dad, you wanna play Candyland?

I've been trying to figure out how this whole thing happened. I honestly didn't think we'd get past a couple hundred. Was it the challenge? Do we like to be a part of ridiculous goals? Why was it contagious? Was it the topic of beauty? I don't think the same thing would happen if I asked you to list 1,000 salty things. Although, that would be fun too. (#1. Ohio streets in January.)

So let's say for sake of argument that it's the topic of beauty that was so contagious. Why? What about this experiment caused you to stay involved until we reached our goal? I would love to hear from you but perhaps even more meaningful would be for you to reflect on why you participated like you did. There was something magical to the whole thing. It's good to reflect on such things. So I know I've asked quite a bit of you as of late. But I would love to hear your reflections if you're willing to share.


Clarke said...

okay, i'll start. i shared my beautiful things because i started to feel guilty for enjoying reading everyone elses comments without participating. it was interesting to see what came to other peoples' minds first. something that i may not have thought of in a million years... but still completely agree with.
for me, it was a welcomed retreat from the negative debbie downer people i have been interacting with as of late. it was, to say the least, a refreshing experience.

Clizzarke said...

creative genius is very contagious.

leahwise said...

The exercise in gratitude and recognizing the many small yet important things in life was a good reminder of how amazing this life is.

Dan Kalbach said...

Maybe I'm a little crazy, but I think a list of "1,000 Shitty Things" or "1,000 Things That Make Me Wanna Say or Type Naughty Words" would have filled up even faster.

I may be alone in this, but It's not my natural tendency to fix my thoughts on what is beautiful, graceful, wonderful, etc. So for me, it was a great exercise in readjusting my focus to the wonders of life, big and small alike.

Christopher Day said...

I began participating in your little post at first because it's what I do. I raise my hand, I speak out in class, I volunteer. But as time went on I found myself NEEDING to participate. It could be where I am at in my life, but my whole attention and focus and passion has changed. I not only want to list the things I see as beautiful, but I want to appreciate them. And I want to experience them over and over. The brevity of life is a strong motivator for me. I have taken for granted too much for too long. I want to immerse myself in this life, in people, in things, and in experiences.

Ed Hatke said...

"Beauty matters, dare I say, almost as much as spirituality and justice."

N. T. Wright
"Surprised by Hope"
p. 222

Dan Kalbach said...

great book, great quote Ed.

Scott & Jess said...

I like what Chris said (and ditto his remarks of "it's what I do"). But for me there was an element of wanting to be connected to a larger community celebrating beauty. Most people who posted would probably agree that it took some effort to not only come up with original "things", but to stop and reflect on what was personally beautiful to each of us. I started reading and posting late, so I was a bit disappointed that the list stopped at 1,000. I think you could have gone to 2,000 easy.

Anonymous said...

I love Ed's quote and Leah's comment. Connecting with beauty is, in a way, connecting with God (the creator of all beauty). It is getting in touch with feelings of gratitude, the awe of nature, miracles of life, inspiration, joy, love, hope - all of those good things that get covered up or brushed aside sometimes because of the junkiness of the human world. Taking time to realize beauty, call it out, and think of things to go on this list was a departure from the norm. We might recognize something of beauty in our daily life and just think it to ourselves. But, the 'beauty' of this experiment was that it grew because you had a shared vision with others and suddenly it was like a whole stadium full of people rooting for the same team.
My 2 cents for today. Thanks for doing this Brad.

John Arns said...

I'd like to add that for me this exercise meant relaxing into simplicity and remembering not to take anything in our life for granted.