I attended a brief workshop a couple of weekends ago on “Finding Beauty and Cultivating Creativity in the Mundane.” Erin (formerly a photographer and international event manager) is now a stay-at-home mum – and while she deeply loves the rewards of parenting, she admitted to us that she has had to teach herself how to see beauty and creativity in the unexpected at times…
“In the mundane. In the domestic chores. In soulless industrial centres and the tangled traffic of urban jungles, in the light of flickering fluorescents and stuffy cubicles, with the taste of stale instant coffee in your mouth…”
She gave examples of “Instagram-ing” her children and her home – even piles of washing! – in order to re-orient and re-narrate moments that might typically be dull or depressing.
It was a wonderful session. I felt that I was encouraged to see the “plain” parts of my world differently. Even better, I felt that I was given permission to stop and appreciate beautiful things in a busy world that more often rewards pace and productivity. (Coincidentally that permission came at a time when Julia and I had just discovered low-cost flowers at our local supermarket. For less than the price of a coffee, we have decided that our lounge deserves a fresh bunch each week. They off-set the piles of laundry nicely…)
The session also coincided with an essay I came across that called for the rediscovery of the ancient triad of Goodness, Beauty and Truth. Towards the end of the essay, Andrew Fellows quotes the well-known phrase from Dostoyevsky that – of the three – Beauty will save the world… He closes:
“When Truth and Goodness have been abandoned by the modern, despised, discarded, there is still Beauty. It may also be downtrodden, yet there is something so intriguing about it. It crops up in the most unlikely places. … [Beauty won't complete the work] on its own. But this tender shoot has a strange ability to work through the hardness and indifference of our culture.”
Perhaps even the hardness and indifference of monotony – traffic, stuffy cubicles and laundry…