Beauty: A (Non) Senseless Indulgence

13 Jan 2010, Posted by Jennifer Iannolo in sensuality

botanyofdesireI finally got to sit down and watch the PBS documentary crafted from Michael Pollan’s book, The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World. Its metaphorical view is intriguing if you think about how well certain plants have succeeded in wooing us — some so thoroughly that they’ve been given a world tour and hero’s welcome.

One particular quip captured the idea succinctly, about how seemingly “useless” things of beauty, such as flowers, have captivated to a global marketplace to possess them — simply so their beauty can be enjoyed.

Principles of pleasure are hard-wired into our psyches as human beings. While some are disinclined to indulge such pleasures (which is fine — more for me), there is such joy to be had in savoring glimpses of beauty that tickle the senses, even just a bit. It changes my mood if I enter my home and see a beautiful bouquet of flowers in the foyer. And chances are that I put them there. Just because.

Things of beauty are never useless. Whether they are found in the bright orange of a Gerber daisy, the smell of baking bread or our lover’s cologne, they make us feel alive, and consciously aware of witnessing something to give us pause.

But we have to be paying attention.

If you’ve been walking around in a haze, focused on work, work, work, or getting the kids to bed, or “getting it all done” (psst…you never will), you are missing out on those moments. But at the end of your life, you will not look back and be thankful that you “got it all done” (you won’t). You will look to things of beauty to remember the precious dotted points along the timeline of your life. The smile of your child. A romantic getaway. The perfect meal.

Make sure there are some dots, OK? Really big ones, if you can manage it.