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.