Winter Wonderland–It’s All in How You Look At It

Sunburst in snowy woods SL (Custom)This photo is my favorite of all the snow pictures I’ve ever seen or taken. I was standing on our sun porch the morning of December 10, 2003 (I know the date because it’s embedded in the original digital photo file), rejoicing in the return of sunshine after the first serious snow of the winter. I had my camera in hand, already framing the shot, when a branch in the background suddenly relieved itself of its burden. Diamond mist filled the air just as I snapped the shutter.

I lowered the camera and watched this enchanted scene play out. I was bursting with gratitude that I’d been there to see it. This picture reminds me that even during the dreeriest, darkest, coldest times (like the past several weeks in the northeast), flashes of beauty and gratitude appear to lift our spirits.

It reminds me that beauty is all around us, if we learn to look. I was indeed fortunate to be there that day and see a scene nobody could ignore. But I can find beauty anywhere. I look around the room where I sit and admire the tapestry fabric on a chair. I see Chinese embroidery, fine as spider’s web, preserved on a tiny tray that serves as a coaster for my coffee mug. Even when it’s snowing (again!), the flakes and new fallen blanket are beautiful. Slush? I’m working on that.

These are physical objects I can see with my eyes. Finding the beauty may be harder in situations. How do you find beauty and gratitude in pain, anger, loss and grief?

My method is to write. I scribble on piles of paper, I vent in volumes of journals. I bang out stories, real and imagined. Once I have a draft on paper (sometimes in pixels), I start asking questions to crack open assumptions and beliefs:

  • How else could I see this?
  • How might (whoever) see this?
  • Could (that person) have actually meant (this)?
  • What would (advisor of my choice, real or imagined) tell me about this?
  • What if … (fill in the blank)?

One question, from The Work of Byron Katie is so powerful it’s in a class of its own:

  • Is this true?

Three other questions support that one. You can download more information on Byron Katie’s site: The Whatever questions I use, I write the answers. I may write them several times.

I don’t always find answers and beauty right away. It may take years, but I know it’s there, and pictures like the one above help me remember that one day, in a blinding flash of the obvious, I’ll see what was always there, but hidden by the darkness of a storm. I’ll find my old story flipping upside down or turning inside out to form a new one. I’ll feel relieved and enormously grateful.

Write now: look around you and find some beauty that inspires gratitude. Write about this. Then think of a situation that’s harder to parse. Use tools like the ones above to write your way through to what may be a jolting conclusion and new way of looking at life.

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KathyPooler said...

Sharon, what a perfect metaphor for how beauty emerges from our darkest times if we keep writing. Your photo is exquisite. I, too, have been marveling at the beautiful snow that coats the trees surrounding our home and leaves a diamond-studded blanket across our yard. Of course the dirty piles of snow that obstruct intersections and parking lots are a challenge. It's nesting weather, a great time to write but I'm still looking forward to sunshine and warmth!

SuziCate said...

Love this! Beauty is is up to us to choose to see it!

Sharon said...

Thanks Kathy. ISunshine doesn't always fall on fresh snow and those diamonds are definitely not forever. t's easy to focus on the slush and muck. So ... write on!

Sharon said...

Suzi, if anyone can find beauty is muddy slush, it would be you. Lessons please!