A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine was admitted to the hospital for a “routine” procedure. She ended up in an ICU and had several more surgeries due to unexpected complications. Her recovery will be long and will involve another surgery.
A few days after I visited her in the hospital, I drove past a patch of prairie at dusk. I was in a hurry, but I thought that my friend would appreciate seeing the late fall colors vividly draped across this timeless landscape. I stopped quickly, backed up the car, jumped out, and took a picture on my phone before rushing on my way.
I emailed the image to my friend and in return discovered that taking the photo had as much of an impact on me as it did on her. She appreciated the beautiful view that she couldn’t get out to see for herself. And I realized that I had slowed down barely, but enough to be connected, at least for the moment, with the beauty around me.
I decided to take a photo of something beautiful for her (and me) everyday. Initially I missed sending images a couple of days when the weather was dark and rainy. I learned that I had to intentionally look for beauty. Now, during my drive into town everyday, I watch for something beautiful. If I don’t see something in the morning, I look in the afternoon, including when my canine companion, Beethoven, and I take a walk.
My search for beauty has become a powerful antidote to the frightening and depressing news of wild fires, hurricanes, mass shootings, and mean spirited Tweets and executive orders emanating from the White House. I had been struggling to cope with all of the depressing and demoralizing news, wanting to ignore it for my own sanity, but also fearing my silence would passively condone destructive actions and attitudes.
While I am still not totally sure what my role as a writer, teacher, friend, and grandmother is during this time, I sense I should be doing what I do best. And for now, I am finding, appreciating, and sharing beauty everyday, as an act of healing and strengthening, so I can continue to write, teach, and grandmother the best that I can during a trying time.