What memories do you have of beauty? How are beauty and freedom related? What am I learning passively, simply by showing up to think about beauty every day?
There are several themes rolling around in my head: Cycling, growing up, silence, immersion in a language or culture, passive learning, beauty. All of them come together for me in one word: Denmark.
I grew up bicycling all over Northwest Ohio. I loved the empty roads, the corn and wheat fields, the silence, the meditative feel of the rhythm of pedaling. I loved being alone; just me, the bike, and the breath.
The sunlight on the wheat or the wind blowing across it are still among the most beautiful things I remember, or can imagine. If you didn’t grow up in Ohio (or the Midwest), this probably sounds crazy; but remember, beauty is both of the mind and of the heart, of physical perception and interpretation. The beauty that I saw was part of a whole experience–breathing the fresh air, feeling the sun and wind, looking at wheat fields for as far as I could see, and being a part of it all.
It was at these times, cycling around Ohio, that I felt surrounded by the beauty of nature, of life itself. I felt it enliven me.
I left Ohio to spend a year in Denmark, where I was immersed in the language and the culture.
I was fortunate enough to have a bicycle, and spent the year cycling all over Odsherred–going to friends’ houses, cycling to school, to soccer or handball practice and games, or just cycling out to the beach for a day. The scenery was different than that in Ohio and it overwhelmed me with its beauty. I do think, I was predisposed to feel the beauty of Denmark in this way, as I had the foundational experience of cycling around Ohio.
My experience of beauty in Denmark was also more than my experience in Ohio: there was a greater sense of freedom.
Don’t get me wrong, there was definitely freedom associated with cycling in Ohio, but it was more the freedom of escape from the angst of being a teenager.
In Denmark the freedom was, “I AM HERE!” The first is the freedom of getting through and overcoming daily struggles; the second is the freedom of coming into my own, of being alive and out in the world, discovering myself without preconceptions or expectations.
As with the beauty of the wheat fields being part of a total experience, so too, the feeling of freedom and beauty in Denmark was part of being immersed in that culture and language. Everything and everyone was beautiful in Denmark. Det er et dejligt land, og det er mit hjerteland.
I am feeling very grateful for this reminiscing. I feel that I am re-living some of the experiences in my life that brought me feelings of beauty, freedom, belonging, connectedness. I have lived and loved beautifully!
In addition, I am excited for this idea of immersion and being surrounded by something…like beauty. I am intentionally surrounding myself with awareness of beauty, here and now. I was not even aware of actively wanting to surround myself with beauty when I was growing up, or when I was in Denmark; how much more is accessible now that I am aware?
I haven’t noted my reminders lately, but I will point this out today: Normally I don’t do a lot with photos or layout (have you noticed?). But today, I thought I would play with making the post more beautiful by doing different things with the photos. This was my intentional attempt to create something beautiful today!