Beauty is created by craft, by striving for precision in executing a vision. We make beautiful clothes, beautiful timber frames, beautiful equations, beautiful plates of food and so on, when we use our skills to create a vision in a precise way.
Fashion is a form of imitation, of following trends. Fashion usually starts with beautiful things, but ends up with effective copies of those things becoming more widespread.
Everyone has the opportunity to create beauty in their own life by what becoming very clear about they value and then executing on that vision with precise skills.
For me, beauty lies in the stories humans tell each other. This is the heart of theology, how our belief systems influence our choices. By examining stories, I examine the relationship between belief and action, and by telling stories, I work to clarify belief.
“Tell me a story,” is often my greeting to someone new, and “You look like you have interesting stories” is how I ask people who might be queer to feel safe sharing them with me.
Very, very early, I found the value in honesty and explicitness. With two Aspergers parents the charms of figurative language and emotional performances did not count for much. I learned to comb the meaning out of narrative, working to model structures of belief that shaped actions.
The tone and musicality of language was always compelling to me but I found the need to strip it bare, moving past symbol to meaning. My passion was for exposing the bones of communication, the meta meanings that drove and shaped expression.
Whenever I have something to offer to the group it always comes from my vision of that exposed meaning which I then connect to other truths to give a clearer and more useful understanding of the choices facing us.
I quickly remove noise to extract content then mirror that content back in a way that makes the underlying beliefs much more explicit and exposed. By understanding what lies beneath we can become more aware in the moment between stimulus and response, clarifying and concentrating our choices.
To me, this exposition is truly beautiful. By looking inside stories instead of just looking at them, I see their intricate function, see the friction at the point between our individual, wild self, full of pain and Eros, and our human urge to be tame, to be assimilated and effective at being successful in influencing other people.
Connections are the jewels I find in the sewage, revealed in the moments when what we share spotlights continuous common humanity through bold unique expression. By looking at the beauty other people make, I see what they value and how they shape their choices to execute on their own precise vision.
Most people, I have found, are not looking to examine and reshape their own belief systems. They have enough challenge, enough demands on their limited attention, energy and time just getting through what is in front of them in the world. Meta examination is not high on the list.
We are comfortable with our own belief systems. They have become part of us, wired deeply into who we know ourselves to be. We know that questioning them is challenging not just our present but also our past; could we really have been doing things better? Have our choices become counterproductive and limiting?
Being willing to engage the possibility of different beliefs which would reshape the way we see the world and the choices we make in it is not comfortable or calming, even if it is invigorating and transformative. Being willing to become new always requires the willingness to let go of the old. Rebirth requires death.
Is the examined life worth living? Or does examination only lead to analysis paralysis, stealing our momentum, creating friction in our relationships with those who don’t want to question beliefs, and stopping us from “just doing it?”
Anyone who is committed to creating beauty in the world knows the importance of contemplative and focused work. They know that they can’t let the easy get in the way of the excellent. They know that determination and precision leads them closer to perfection, and that perfection leads them closer to the divine.
Mastery leads to fluid action, a point where we become one with the work, in harmony with creation. This is when we create breathtaking and lasting beauty in the world.
Many people find it easier to make fashionable choices rather than making beautiful choices. They imitate what they see and get the power of symbol without having to struggle over meaning, the benefits of imitation over the struggle of creation.
These people are comfortable with what they know, comfortable with following the trends, taking the wisdom of crowds over the sharpness of personal creation. They are not queer, choosing to value the normative and conventional over the quirky and individual. They want to act out of old habits, following the trends, and making the easy choices of imitation.
It makes me crazy that so many transpeople only consider why they do what they do when asked questions by a class of human sexuality students. Even then, what they usually offer is the rationalizations that they have picked up while imitating other comforting people.
I am aware that by venerating the process rather than the method, by offering the tools of questions rather than the comfort of canned solutions, I am challenging to others. People prefer having their beliefs affirmed rather than threatened, prefer simple rules to excoriating questions. (And no one likes the word “excoriating.”)
Committing to the craft, precision and vision that creates beauty requires discipline and focus. While mediocrity can try to take a little bit of everything, quality demands the elimination of noise and distraction.
The choices we make define who we are. We all know how to make more appropriate choices, the abstractly “right” choices that are in the textbook, the ones our parents want to keep reminding us about, but instead we make the best choices we can within the bounds of our human will and beliefs.
Understanding the stories that contain those beliefs is important to me. I don’t shape stories for the ease, entertainment and comfort of other people, rather I shape them in a way that makes what is beneath them honest and explicit.
The intensity of precision demands leaving the common to claim the better. Write that better off as just “abstractions” and you deny the only tools which can take you to better.
I realized a long time ago that I am, sadly, a guru, a theologian, and the most beautiful and appealing parts of me are locked in my mind. I find beauty in the narratives of humans, not just in their poetry but in their meaning, meta and exposed.
Where do you strive for leadership, for beauty in your life? Where do you use your craft, precision and vision to move towards perfection, towards the ownership of practice which allows you fast and fluid creation?
What is beautiful to you?
More than that, what is beautiful from you?