There was a comment from a friend on a recent post to the effect that I live in an especially beautiful place, which is true, but I do believe that everywhere is beautiful in its own way. Yeah, yeah I can hear you say, “What about the Gaza Strip, for instance”…….I should have chosen an example I know, but it’s the first that came to mind, and I don’t doubt that there is beauty there of some sort. By the same token, there is plenty of ugliness here, too. It’s just that spending life concentrating on ugliness is kind of, well, depressing.
Sometimes the beauty of a place is contained on the faces of the people who live there, sometimes it’s in the simplicity of its form, like deserts in Namibia or Sahara, or in the charm of old buildings or the elegance of new ones. The photo above was taken when I was living in Adeje a few years ago. It’s an abandoned banana plantation, all tumble-down breeze blocks, not nice at all, but convenient for dog walking. I tried to lighten the picture so you can see the rubble, but I don’t know if it’s worked. See how it’s transformed by the sunset, though? The crumbling pillars which are so hideous in the daylight, look mysterious against the sun’s final glow.
The thing about taking your camera everywhere is that you begin to tune out the ugly and seek out the beautiful, which is to say that in the heightened state of awareness in which you find yourself, you begin to notice things you’d never noticed before, a dandelion, a cracked door…..
The door above almost certainly looks more interesting and romantic in this state than when it was freshly painted. You can weave all sorts of stories about what it guards, who lived there.
Obviously, flowers are beautiful, and can transform a drab room or a dry landscape with their colors and the sense of vitality they lend, but how about cacti? Here, they grown like weeds, all over the place, they cling to hillsides where nothing else will grow in the parched summertime, and we drive past and ignore them, but stop, and take a look at how many shades of green they can be, the shapes and lines, their tenaciousness in proclaiming life where little else survives. It might not be cacti where you live, but there will be something – a tiny flower shooting up between paving stones of a city street, or a denuded winter tree against a stormy sky.
Old things have a special beauty, some are more attractive with age than when they were young. If the house above wasn’t falling apart, then the creeper wouldn’t be adorning it, and if you think that looks attractive, did you notice the telephone wire running over the building, or the aerial on the roof behind. I’m not going to tell you that cables and aerials can be attractive, even I have to draw the line somewhere, but what the eye so often does is tune them out, and sees only the beauty behind.
Some tired and worn buildings need a helping hand, like the one above, in La Laguna, which is colorful and fun. It had to vie with listed buildings for its place in the public attention, so someone decided to help it along, likewise this ugly wall in Tegueste, below. It’s not a great work of art, even by graffiti standards, but it’s full of life and color, and has a touching message, beauty, remember, isn’t only physical. It’s also how something makes you feel inside.
There is sometimes beauty where you least expect it. Earlier this year, in possibly the worst day of calima I ever remember, I stopped by the roadside, dust so thick in the air I could taste it, and took this picture of La Tejita Beach. I have dozens of pictures of La Tejita, but this, unexpected one, is one of my favorites.
City streets can be so busy, it’s a hard time just not bumping into every third person you meet, but if you do stop, sometimes you notice the most surprising things. The shot below was very random. I’d been to a museum, where I’d not taken one photo for one reason or another, but when I came out, this was what I saw.
You might be drawn by the elegance of a street light, or a railing, or door.
A colorful display in a shop might strike you. OK, this is in a resort, but, let me tell you, not in an area where the word beauty springs readily to mind!
As with the what you can see in the world around you, learn to tune out the other crap as well, the people who wind you up and spoil your sense of well-being, the sounds which grate on your nerves. You might not be able to avoid the people or the sounds, but letting them get to you is allowing them way too much importance in your life. What’s important is the beauty wherever you find it. Of course, if you’re passing through wherever you are, then it may just be a sign that it’s time to move on when all around you seems uninviting.