Beauty is… the eye of the beholder the eye of the beholder

…the topic of photographs and writings anticipated from children as young as 6. Or so hopes the Reflections coordinators for PTAs across the country.

I was asked to participate towards that end, and will leave soon for Check Elementary to do what I can with short notice towards this daunting teaching task–in five minutes with the younger grades, 10 for the older, for both writing and photography projects.

It was my idea to try to combine the two, since so often a writer has, if not a picture in hand, one in his or her head towards which the writing points.

I put together a FotoMagico slide show that will at least, perhaps, hold their attention. The topic at hand is both difficult and easy. This is basically my text, though the two dozen images do most of the talking.

Beauty belongs to you alone, though we tend to agree on what beauty is. In some countries, their ideas are very different from ours. Beauty is an experience you have and you don’t have to explain it. When you have it, you feel satisfied, fulfilled, completed, happy. It can come from things that you hear–like music or your momma’s voice–or from what you see–a butterfly, cloud or painting. Beauty makes us go OOOOH! Or AHHHH!

Our ideas of what is beautiful may change over time. The more we pay attention to what makes a person, place or thing unique, the more we come to know, love and perhaps come to think them beautiful. Beauty once saw a Beast. The Ugly Duckling became a beautiful swan, and the frog a prince.

Beauty is something that happens to us, in us. It is a good feeling that makes us want to share. We write poems that tell about the beauty we see in nature. We take pictures of places that are special to us, and they may be beautiful to us alone. Other scenes we find beautiful and capture with our cameras–of mountains, forests or seashores; of kittens, babies, or wildflowers–are beautiful to many people because they make them feel that beauty too.

Beauty speaks of order, meaning and good purpose. It can be hard to see, but it is everywhere you go. It’s easier to see it if we go slowly. It’s easier to hear it if we make ourselves quiet inside and use the ears of our hearts to listen.

Your photograph or your writing can tell about the beauty that you find, then go on and on to make your friends and family, classmates and teachers hear or see that same beauty.

And isn’t this a good way to spend your time–finding beauty close to home, capturing it like a lightning bug in a jar, to bring home and release in your picture or in your own words for others to see?

Share this with your friends!

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. What a worthwhile assignment, Fred. Your written explanation was as good as can be, although I know your photos will communicate more effectively to your young audience, who aren’t yet abstract thinkers. I hope you get a lot of joy and satisfaction out of your day of teaching younguns, like I did out of teaching my 7th graders science.