A lifetime ago, when I was still working in a hospital as a physiotherapist, I found out that a patient of mine had passed away suddenly. He was an amazing and inspiring man and had been at the unit for 7 months. During that time he had numerous operations and many hours of treatment and he kept his spirits up despite everything. He was kind and gentle and every staff member developed a soft spot for him. He died unexpectedly as a result of a complication while in a different hospital and we were all devastated by the news. When I got home the first thing I did was reach for my camera and photograph my garden. I lost myself in the patterns and colours and textures around me. The garden needed work, but somehow finding the beauty in the overgrown space around me helped me deal with all the heartache and questions swirling inside me.
I grew up in Africa and have parents that love nature and the great outdoors. We travelled around South Africa extensively and I continued to travel when I discovered photography. I have seen landscapes of incredible beauty and majesty; sunsets glowing brilliant reds and oranges lighting the seemingly endless plains, the ocean crashing into immense cliffs sending sprays of white water into the air, red desert dunes curving into the azure blue sky and many more areas of natural beauty. In those places and moments it is hard not to feel the impact of the beauty around you to your very core.
Simone Weil said that only affliction and beauty pierce the human heart. Beauty helps us to transcend the pain that surrounds us; it helps us to engage with the Divine and elevates our existence from mere drudgery into a life of grace and gratitude. In those moments when we are surround by incredible, majestic beauty it is easy to be intoxicated by its presence, but we can’t always travel to places with immense and awe inspiring natural beauty.
The question is how many of us notice the beauty in the things around us, in the small details or perhaps in our everyday lives? Photography has shown me how to notice the small things and to see beauty in many situations. It has opened my eyes to the world around me, but I am still guilty of becoming lost in the quagmire of life, the dishes in the sink, the list of to-do’s or my own expectations. When I let the grit of life interfere with my ability to see beauty around me, a small part of me becomes dormant. When I consciously take the time to see the beauty in my own life, I can feel myself blossom inside; I connect with my Creator and my soul finds peace. That moment becomes ingrained in my memory and I can continue with the marathon of my life.
I recently read a blog about beauty hunting, http://www.becomegoodsoil.com/beauty-hunting/, I had never heard of the term before but it totally resonated with me. I have been beauty hunting as a photographer for years, I just didn’t know it. Reading about beauty hunting has inspired me to make the time to actively find beauty. I am going to purposefully go to places that are naturally beautiful and consciously find beauty in both those places, but also the small things. I am sure that consciously turning my mind to beauty in one area will help me to carry my beauty hunting with me into my own life, into my home, my surroundings, my family and my friends (maybe even in the sink that is full of dishes).
Would you like to join me on a Beauty Hunting Quest?
Would you like to join a group of like-minded beauty hunters on a quest to find beauty in the small things and get inspired to be creative at the same time? We meet on a monthly basis in and around Richmond-upon-Thames. You can bring a sketch book, journal, camera, smartphone or anything else that you can want use to capture the beauty you find (your brain is perfectly acceptable too!). Sign up for the next Beauty Hunting Quest on 19 September at Eventbrite – Beauty Hunting. Spaces are limited and are on a first-come-first-serve basis.
If you can’t manage Richmond-upon-Thames, perhaps you can start a Beauty Hunting meet-up of your own. I would love to hear your stories and see your pictures.
To find out about upcoming meet-ups, to share your beauty finds and to connect with other Beauty Hunters join our Facebook group, Beauty Hunters.
“Never lose the opportunity to see anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson