Ugly seems like such a harsh word to me, and beauty? Well, it conjures magnificent sunsets, gardens, lovely looking people and so on. It is only from our own perspective that we can judge beauty and ugliness. I love the story of when Rembrandt set out to paint Jesus and his apostles, he looked all over the streets of Amsterdam. He found his Jesus as a tall, handsome, pure looking man and asked him to pose for him. Years later, he was ready to paint Judas. He found him in Paris, a homeless man sitting outside a store. He was dirty, unkempt, and had deeply sad eyes. After painting Judas, the man thanked him for his assistance. The man said to him, “you don’t remember me, do you?” The artist said he did not. Then the homeless man said, “I sat for your portrait of Jesus.”
You just never know. What may look like hell, hides heaven.
What is beauty to you? Can you expand your awareness of this?
What if you decide to change your perspective?
For example; you are sitting in traffic, the exhaust is thick, and all you see is the beat up car in front of you and the spray paint on the freeway walls. You are agitated to say the least and this brings about ugly emotions. Ugly emotions can set you up for a day filled with headaches and problems.
But with a change in perspective;
You begin by looking around. You notice people in their cars, maybe you catch a glimpse of the one person oblivious to traffic singing happily at the top of their lungs. This makes you smile. Perhaps you move away from the irritation of the grafitti to take a deeper look. You notice how brilliant the colors are, and with new eyes you can feel the artist’s passion and excitement.
As you turn your attention to search out beauty even in ugly times, you will see your life begin to change in amazing ways. Life begins to reveal its splendor in everything. You become beautiful by the sights you see. You begin to reflect this image out into your life and this is what is reflected back. By changing your perspective, you change your life.
Photographs by Don Baird
Rembrandt story taken from A Deep Breath of Life by Alan Cohen