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As Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett and many others have sung:

As I approach the prime of my life
I find I have the time of my life
Learning to enjoy at my leisure
All the simple pleasures
And so I happily concede
That this is all I ask
This is all I need

Beautiful girls (guys), walk a little slower when you walk by me
Lingering sunsets, stay a little longer with the lonely sea
Children everywhere, when you shoot at bad men, shoot at me
Take me to that strange, enchanted land grown-ups seldom understand

Wandering rainbows, leave a bit of color for my heart to own
Stars in the sky, make my wish come true before the night has flown
And let the music play as long as there’s a song to sing
And I will stay younger than Spring

Songwriters: Gordon Jenkins

If I have learned nothing else in my 81 years of living, I’ve learned that beauty is most certainly in the eye of the beholder. However, I also believe that the eye for beauty can certainly be enhanced, honed and brought to life by exposure and appreciation. In that light, I really believe the human desire for beauty is inborn. How else would you explain the two brothers who walk three hours each way to learn to play in an orchestra? How else would you explain the beautiful architecture of previous civilizations, such as Petra? The human spirit has always craved beauty.

Sometimes I think that training kids to see and appreciate beauty is something akin to mining for gold. Every once in a while that vein rises to the surface and simply begs to be polished, but many times it has to be dug out from the rock and dross that surrounds it.

I see that very thing so frequently as I teach my K – 4th grade choir. With some, I can see the delight of making music jump right out of their little faces like gold nuggets jumping into my gold pan. With others, there is considerable digging that has to take place. But to continue the analogy, when we do our concert at the end of the semester, and those kids get on stage in front of an audience, the glow on their faces and their performance is so much more valuable than any piece of gold jewelry I could own.

And in further analogy I would remind you that the beauty of gold is that you don’t have to be the one to mine the gold, or even be the one to wear the gold, to deeply appreciate its true beauty. Where would we be without knowledgeable and appreciative audiences? Appreciation of beauty is every bit as important as making the beauty. I’ve never made a sunset, or the changing leaves of a tree in the fall, but I certainly have appreciated the beauty of many of those things. Maybe it doesn’t matter to the sunsets or the turning leaves whether or not someone appreciates their beauty, but it does matter to the soul of the human race.

As adults, my kids still tease me about my exclamation, “It’s so beeeaaauuuuuu-tiful!”

This phrase was frequently uttered while traveling somewhere in the car. We did a lot of traveling when the kids were young, so there were many opportunities to see beautiful things along the way, and that phrase got said a lot!

In my growing-up years, my dad, who was a marvelous photographer, had taught us kids to look for interest and beauty all around us. We lived out in the desert until I was 12. I have so many pictures of beautiful things he found during those years. So, I tried to inculcate that educated eye in my children.

As adults, I’m often headed somewhere with one or both of my children and they ask, “What is it, Mom?” Knowing full well that I will exclaim about something we’re passing that, “It is so beeeaaaaauuuuuu-ti-ful!”

I guess if one has to be remembered for something they’ve said over and over, you couldn’t ask for a much better epitaph. I’m glad they tease me about that. It means they’re still cognizant of beauty as it exists around them; that I have done my job and that I have earned my epitaph.

Adrienne Jacoby
Adrienne Jacoby is a 40-plus-year resident of Shasta County and native-born Californian. She was a teacher of vocal music in the Enterprise Schools for 27 years and has been retired for 11 years. A musician all her life, she was married to the late Bill Jacoby with whom she formed a locally well -known musical group who prided themselves in playing for weddings, wakes, riots, bar mitzvas and super market openings. And, oh yes … she has two children, J’Anna and Jayson.
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10 Responses

  1. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    AJ, your computer must be in working order again, or perhaps you have a new one. Whichever, it’s so nice to have a piece from you on ANC. Thanks for the reminder that beauty can be just about anywhere.

  2. Avatar Jeannette Logue says:

    Hi, Adrienne — This is the perfect piece to be read first thing in the morning. It’s lovely and so true. Thank you!

  3. Avatar erin friedman says:

    Thanks, Adrienne! I have been in a bit of a funk because of the smoky skies and being stuck indoors for such a long time. BUT — you are right about seeking beauty and – lo and behold — it’s there: In the rosy sunsets, even in the ashes and the grief. A timely reminder – thanks.

  4. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    Erin . . . . sometimes, on days of smoky skies and bitter losses, we simply MUST mine the gold we hold in our memories. Sometimes remembering those treasures is the hardest work of all. …but rosy sunsets will do, also.

  5. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    Adrienne, I loved this, and with the smoke back with a vengeance this morning, your words come at a great time. Thank you.

  6. Avatar Janine Hall says:

    That was so lovely. We all need to be reminded of how beautiful so many things around us are. Thank you.

  7. Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

    In grad school, one of my major professor’s research interests was the evolution of aesthetics. This led to me—a PhD student in evolutionary ecology—co-authoring a paper on aesthetics in the International Space Station, and a three-year fellowship with NASA-Ames in the Human Factors division.

    As another pointless aside, I was once on a federal agency team preparing a NEPA document, in the field with the members of the multi-disciplinary team (various resource experts). The guy who was writing the visual resources/aesthetics section called us all over to where a spring was forming bubbles on the surface. He went on awhile about the beauty of the bubbles. For the next 10 years his nickname was “Bubbles.”

  8. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    I don’t care what anyone says, BEAUTY COUNTS . . . . but then, to define beauty . . . .ahhh . . . there is the conundrum.

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      We just watched the movie Wonder. Classmates eventually found beauty in this little boy with the disfigured face.

  9. Avatar Doug Mudford says:

    As one who appreciates, with each passing day, a slower walk and lingering sunsets, thank you for reminding me of this beautiful song/poem.