Beauty for no other reason

I’ve listened to Kate Bowler’s interview with Liz Gilbert four times (so far). One of the lovely things about this interview is the idea that sometimes we make things beautiful because we just can’t help it. I have been really leaning into this idea during my (c)leave.

In the interview, Kate shares an observation that people in “emotionally expensive” professions “feel deeply called to teaching, nursing, pastoring, a lot of showing up when they don’t want to…I love hearing them describe the feeling of being called from outside of themselves. And yet I do feel the weariness of them not being able to do anything for no reason.”

That weariness—the one that justifies the dismissal of any task that doesn’t have a clear objective—is familiar to me.

Later in the interview, Liz is talking about her great grandmother’s quilts. She asks, “Why did she take time? She didn’t have to make something more beautiful than it needed to be. Because she couldn’t help it…This journey through this very difficult experience in human form is even harder if you don’t allow yourself to give in to making something that you can’t help making because it’s so beautiful. It’s even harder.”

Lately I’ve been giving in. Here are some things I’ve done just because.

I bought a single-stem vase for $2 at a thrift store and stuck it on the ledge in our bathroom. Now every morning some unnecessarily beautiful flower sings a solo while I engage in the morning routine.

I pulled to the side of the road (and even made my pre-teen get out of the car!) because the snow geese were visiting our neighborhood. The sound of the birds drowned out the initial complaints about the beauty apprenticeship.

I have been making beautiful food, just for me, at lunch, when I’m the only one who can appreciate it. It is a good opportunity to practice giving myself compliments and also receiving them. 🙂

I created a live mantle after an inspirational trip to Longwood Gardens for no other reason other than because it allowed me to bring some more beauty into my house.

I painted and redecorated our master bedroom and bathroom for no other reason than because I could make them more beautiful. I had some things that had been pestering me (like an off centered window above our bed, and a countertop and tile I don’t love in the bathroom), and I found ways to accept them. The bedroom is a good place to go to sleep and to wake up to a new day. Wilbur is thoroughly enjoying what we call his dual monitors in our bedroom.

The dresser in that last photo was my birthday present to myself. I named her Lois. I don’t need a reason; naming her delighted me.

I hope you do something today to make something beautiful for no other reason. Doing these things has really unleashed some delight for me, and I suspect it might for you, too.

P.S. Thanks to my mustard curtains with pom poms cheerleading squad, the friend who told me to write this and not worry whether people would think it was pretentious, and that if they did, they can go…(beep), and to Sam for doing a million small projects, and to the stupid person who sold me that painting in the gold frame for $25 at a yard sale last year.