As the seasons change, leaving the flushed, frenetic summer and bringing the refreshing respite of autumn breezes, it gives me an opportunity to reflect on beauty in all of its simplicity and complexity.
Beauty, for me, is anything that surrounds me, my environment. I have always been mesmerized by nature. From a young age, I loved the way rocks accumulate on ocean shores, the symmetry and irregularity of trees in the forest. And I loved the scents of nature—how they could affect my mood, lifting me up or calming and focusing me.
It’s true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder; it’s different for every person. But, also, beauty is that which ties us all together. The act of sharing values about what is beautiful across countries and across cultures binds us. I think that it’s a wondrous thing that all humans yearn for the beauty of nature in its purest forms. We vacation on sun-drenched beach or near snowcapped mountains; we ride waves of water or snow; we unwind by serene lakes. We are together in the shared experience of escaping our cities and towns to exist in nature for a little while.
Scientists study how our human brains react to beautiful things like they do to stimulating drugs: The same gratification centers light up with pleasure. So, our focus on beautiful sights, sounds, tastes and feelings is not superficial or unnecessary; it is a key component to our happiness, especially in order to make healthy decisions. Walking in nature, experiencing all of its sensory satisfaction, is a sure way to calm us, ground us and give us inspiration for the future.
I will make a point to see the beauty in what is natural this fall, whether it is in the quake of leaves on a tree I pass on a crowded Manhattan street, the sun setting over the tall buildings or the smile on the faces of people feeling a refreshing breeze as the season turns.
Beauty is however you see it.