Friday, July 12, 2013

Practicing What I Preach or Intentionally Pursuing Beauty

I find myself asking many of my clients to intentionally seek out beauty in their lives, whether it be via nature, good food, music, art, playing, etc. My clients and I spend our times reflecting hard on the darkness of their lives by looking at the past and present, and how much they've been harmed, wounded, betrayed, written off, neglected, abandoned, abused, etc. There is often a lot of anxiety and sadness in the room. However, at other times I am the one who feels the most sadness, and my clients feel nothing. They have taught themselves to feel nothing, because as young children the risk of feeling anything would have been too costly. Neurologically speaking (roughly), they have learning to listen only to the left side of their brain. When I ask them to pursue beauty, I am asking them to do two things: engage the right side of their brain, and confront darkness with light.

I try to live by the counseling rule of not asking my clients to do something that I have not done or would not be willing to do. Today I listened to spring and summer of Vivaldi's Four Seasons. I teared up more than a few times as the beauty of it invited me towards something good and lovely and hopeful. It hurt to listen to it, but what poignantly wonderful pain it was. I sat in between the grind of insurance billing (really, it's true, boring left brained stuff) and a perfect, grassy, sunny meadow that had a slight cool breeze blowing through, and there were butterflies and clouds and I was free.

Beauty stirs up longing. Longing stirs up hope. And, hope is scary stuff, because it points out what is true, and calls us to change how we live. It. Is. Not. Suppose. To. Be. Like. This. We are East of Eden, but not forever. I will numb no longer, but will affix my gaze to what is glorious and beautiful, and it's gonna hurt.