Sometimes, it’s easy to get bogged down in cynicism, pessimism and a general bleak perspective on life. I know I sometimes do as well, especially when observing, analyzing and discussing the political events of the day. Moreover, we are constantly inundated whether from local, state, national or world news with indescribably awful crime stories; stories about murder, rape, theft, human rights abuses, and so forth. Again, through such prisms, we often lose sight of what makes life so beautiful. I don’t just mean aesthetically, although that too, but what makes life beautiful manifest in our interactions together and what we can achieve individually and together. I was browsing reddit and picked out a handful of pictures to document what I am talking about. Let’s take a gander here…
This is the Infinity Bridge in the borough of Stockton-on-Tres in northeast England. First off, I find it absolutely breathtaking that we can build a structure stretching from one side of land to another with water below. Furthermore, not only do we do that, but we also then do so with such beautiful architecture. It’s a stunning image.
Here is snapshot of the city of London. Again, it’s gorgeous, but also, marvel at human achievement. Before we came along, this area we refer to as London was dirt, grass, whatever the terrain was. We come along and we build enormous skyscrapers of different shapes, sizes and styles with accompanying buildings all around with a waterway right there in the middle. I am astounded by the ingenuity.
I love space because it gives us such a daunting perspective of how important and incredibly small life is comparatively. Not to mention, again, as the theme suggests, there is such beauty in these far-away worlds. Check out this Jupiter, Venus and the Moon over the Los Angeles skyline.
Some may wonder why this next one is on here. It’s a daring flying kick at Lion’s Head, Cape Town, South Africa. For me, there is something amazing and wondrous about how far we’re willing to push ourselves whether in our inner or outer journey – there really are no limits to what we will try or do. Sometimes, yes, that leads to unspeakable evilness, but other times, like here, it leads to a daring, but kick-ass picture. I love seeing people do things that I may be too afraid to do and just being able to sit back and go, “Whoa, man.”
With that sentiment in mind, check out this, as eighty-one skydivers execute a canopy formation. Consider this, not too long ago – we’re talking barely over a century ago – we couldn’t fly. There was no such thing as the airplane and the Wright Brothers were just kids themselves. Then within decades, we have fighter jets and then we have space shuttles that can go outside the Earth’s orbit. Such advancement in a short amount of time epitomizes my concept of “life is beautiful.” Anyhow, so, we acquire the ability to fly. Then what do we do? We jump out of the damn plane. Why? Because it’s fun of course! I’ve done it and I can attest to this. However, to then add style and grace to it with a formation along with eighty other skydivers? It legitimately blows my mind.
I’m not an adrenaline junkie, even though I did skydive, but I do love gasping and gazing on in amazement at what another human is willing to do. Not only is this next image a beautiful shot of nature, but it’s a beautiful shot of human nature and what we can do. And that’s my entire point here. Life is beautiful because we’re surrounded by beauty, but it’s also beauty because we, as humans, make our own beauty – the beauty in our daring, our explorations, our kindness, our cooperation, etc. So, this is the Eiger Summit Ridge in Switzerland. Literally, one wrong move and …
I wanted to end these pictures with another cool nature shot, the lush green hills of Sri Lanka. You almost want to reach out with your hand and touch it, wait, I did do that.
I could go on with a plethora of pictures detailing the human connection, human creativity and other nature pictures, but how about some videos now? Listen to Chopin’s Nocturne and realize the beauty therein. Such soothing sounds to the ears; I keep using the word, but it fits – I marvel at the ability of others to create something so lovely and striking.
Check out this video of a kid with one leg playing baseball. Look at his eyes; he’s determined and I love it. The freaking kid takes a charge at home plate. I’m twice his size and I’d probably flinch, if I saw someone my comparable size charging at me. I find this to represent “life is beautiful” because there is something vastly beautiful about continuing on living and not letting something like losing your leg slow you down; it demonstrates the perseverance of the human spirit.
Then there’s this video of dogs welcoming back returning soldiers. Man, it’s get me teary-eyed quite easily, as a lover of dogs and the beautiful connection we have with them.
Perhaps my favorite little spiel showing how damn amazing us humans are is from the brilliant National Geographic documentary Inside 9/11: Zero Hour. Louis Lesche, survivor of 9/11, who was on the 86th floor of the North Tower when the plane hit, recounts his story. YouTube cut it off between two videos, so to properly set up the video I’m going to show, he starts by saying, “I’m going down and there was a point where we stopped and this fireman was on the same step as me and he looked at me and I looked at him…”
He didn’t miss a goddamn step. It’s a thirty second anecdote, but it’s one of the most potent ones I have ever heard. I still have chills and a few tears from watching that again and I’ve seen the documentary countless times already.
This isn’t some plea for us to all hold hands and, “Why can’t we all just get along?” I’m not putting my head in the sand to the evils out there or the raw deals some of us are dealt daily. I’m simply stating that – what should be an obvious point – the world is beautiful in the many different ways you look at it, whether the natural beauty all around us or the beauty found in the love and kindness manifest in our daily actions, especially in our most challenging of moments, as in the last video I posted during 9/11.
I haven’t touched upon beautiful writing or poetic lines or the amazing technologies a multitude of people and organizations are working on that will change the world (check out TED talks for more of that), but we should learn from Anne Frank’s example, as she looked for the beauty in one of the worst possible situations imaginable. She said, “I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”
I hope individually and collectively, we never lose sight of that.