Embracing Beauty • Day 19 • Unplug Part 2

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This morning (China time), like many of you, I watched the third and final presidential debate. The experience of watching that debate was a microcosm of this entire election cycle, with all of the frustration, shock, embarrassment, anger, and disbelief that has characterized the past several months all packed into 90 minutes. The only positive feature of the whole thing was that Chris Wallace managed to maintain some semblance of control.

via MattStevensCLT on Flickr

via MattStevensCLT on Flickr

As I shut down the browser, I was struck by a need for beauty. This debate, this election, and what is waiting for us in the next two weeks, all made me realize how much I’ve started to starve for beauty, even in the midst of keeping on top of this 31 Days project. And once more I’ve realized that the beauty that I need is not going to be digital. It’s going to be found in embracing reality – the people around me, the wind in my face, natural light rather than light from an LED screen.

And so, for the second time during this 31 Days of Embracing Beauty, the beauty that I present to you is the beauty in your own world once you have shut down the digital.

Unplug, and get out there and remember that as important as the election might seem, what’s even more important is the reality living in the house with you, the reality of the sun and the stars and the weather, the reality of the touch of a loved one, the reality of life. And the beauty of it all. Get off this device and enjoy that experience for a while.

You’re welcome.


Stay tuned for more examples of embracing beauty, and please share this post with your friends! Let’s help spread beauty all over the internet.

Also, if you have an example of beauty that you want to share, drop me a line at info@thimblerigsark.com and I’ll be happy to include it!

Embracing Beauty • The First Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • The Second Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • Day 15 • The Bus Scene from Swiss Army Man

Embracing Beauty • Day 17 • “For the Beauty of the Earth” John Rutter

Embracing Beauty • Day 18 • Animated Short, Borrowed Time

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Embracing Beauty • Day 12 • Monet

1No commentary today.

Only Monet, and flowers.

Just because.

The photos come from Heim Studio, and the Monet from the internet. Thanks, Karina!

Stay tuned for more examples of embracing beauty, and please share this post with your friends! Let’s help spread beauty all over the internet.

Also, if you have an example of beauty that you want to share, drop me a line at info@thimblerigsark.com and I’ll be happy to include it!

Embracing Beauty • The First Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • Day 8 • More Examples of Beauty in Music

Embracing Beauty • Day 9 • Beauty goes Interstellar 

Embracing Beauty • Day 10 • Unplug

Embracing Beauty • Day 11 • The Beauty of Family

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Embracing Beauty • Day 11 • The Beauty of Family

1When I consider beauty in the world as well as in my own experiences in life, I have to conclude that one of the most beautiful ideas we have is the idea of family.

We didn’t have to be creatures of community, but we are. Imagine, we could have been like moles, solitary animals destined for a life of digging in the dirt all alone. We could have been like skunks, wandering around by ourselves in the forest, scaring off everyone else with our stench, only coming together when we’re desperate for each other’s warmth in the frozen winter.

Maybe those animals do paint a picture of the way we are sometimes. But we aren’t our best in those pictures of the solitary life, are we?

We’re at our best when we’re not facing the world alone.

Even the most introverted among us have to admit to be the case. We have to confess that even though occasional solitude is a gift, a bigger and better gift are the people who genuinely care about us, and who are always there for us, and who love us and accept us in spite of who we are, not because of who we are.

And we call this gift family.

What does this word mean to you?

I asked my friends on FB to send in favorite pictures of their families, and I’ve assembled quite a collection of beautiful people. While most of these pictures are people with their blood relatives, or their spouses and kids, there are also pictures of people connected to others by a different bond – a bond that is no less family than the pictures of people connected by DNA.

As my friend Sarah put it, “…family is not just those who share the same blood, but those who have been with you through thick and thin, who love you no matter your faults (and sometimes because of them), and have no problem making themselves silly to join in the fun.”

Well said, Sarah.

So, for today’s beauty embrace, I give you a gallery of beautiful families from all over my world. And if you’d like to add your family, please send me a pic at info@thimblerigark.com, and I’ll grow the gallery.

Stay tuned for more examples of embracing beauty, and please share this post with your friends! Let’s help spread beauty all over the internet.

Also, if you have an example of beauty that you want to share, drop me a line at info@thimblerigsark.com and I’ll be happy to include it!

Embracing Beauty • The First Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • Day 8 • More Examples of Beauty in Music

Embracing Beauty • Day 9 • Beauty goes Interstellar 

Embracing Beauty • Day 10 • Unplug

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Embracing Beauty • Day 4 • The Top 100 Most Beautiful Songs According to Reddit

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Of course, a look at beauty in the world would be incomplete without an examination of beauty as represented by music.

But if beauty is subjective, beauty in music might just be doubly so. The beauty of a song can haunt me for a multitude of reasons – where I was when I first heard the song, the circumstances in my life when the song spoke to me for the first time, relationships, emotional maturity, spiritual longings… there are so many reasons why one person might be enraptured by the beauty of a song while another person might find it cloying and trite.

And so, for this first foray into beauty in music, I thought I’d go to the current arbitrar of the internet: reddit.

Three years ago, user named McSlurryHole posted a question on Reddit that he or she probably never imagined would get much traction:

“Think to yourself, what is the most beautiful song you have ever heard, im not talking about your favourite song, or the most technical, or something that made you cry, I just want to know the song that made you say ‘holy shit… I could die to this'”

After the replies came close to 10,000 in a day, another reddit user, Dansecaribe, compiled the top 100 songs from that list and created a Spotify list.

Today, for my act of embracing beauty, I give to you – embedded below – that Spotify list of the Top 100 Most Beautiful Songs, as voted by the music lovers of Reddit.

If, for some reason, Spotify won’t work for you, you can also check out this YouTube playlist, which should contain most of the same pieces of music:

Stay tuned for more examples of embracing beauty, and please share these posts with your friends each day this month! Remember, this blog doesn’t have any advertising, and I make no money off of getting hits on stories. I just want to counteract the ugliness we see each day with small and huge examples of the beauty that exists in this world!

Also, if you have an example of beauty that you want to share, drop me a line at info@thimblerigsark.com and I’ll be happy to include it!

Past days of Embracing Beauty:

Embracing Beauty • Day 1 • Hyeonseo Lee’s Escape from North Korea

Embracing Beauty • Day 2 • A Teacher’s Story

Embracing Beauty • Day 3 • The Photography of Samuel Zeller

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Embracing Beauty • Day 3 • The Photography of Samuel Zeller

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Our series on beauty continues today with the photography of Samuel Zeller. Zeller is a photographer who lives in Geneva, Switzerland, and specializes in seeking out the beautiful in unusual places.

Asked in an interview in Frankie Magazine what kind of subjects interested him the most, Zeller said, “The seemingly less interesting ones – the corner of a building, the industrial areas, those things we see but don’t look at closely. I’ve always paid attention to my surroundings, and find more and more interest in finding beauty everywhere.”

This definitely matches the spirit of what I’m trying to do with this series, 31 Days of Embracing Beauty, and so I hope that you enjoy Zeller’s work. And if you do, then share his work with your own social media connections.

Help spread the beauty today!

You can find much more of Samuel Zeller’s photography on his website, samuelzeller.ch, as well as on Instagram, and on Unsplash.

To follow Zeller on Twitter: @zellersamuel.

Stay tuned for more examples of embracing beauty, and please share these posts with your friends each day this month! Remember, this blog doesn’t have any advertising, and I make no money off of getting hits on stories. I just want to counteract the ugliness we see each day with small and huge examples of the beauty that exists in this world!

Also, if you have an example of beauty that you want to share, drop me a line at info@thimblerigsark.com and I’ll be happy to include it!

Past days of Embracing Beauty:

Embracing Beauty • Day 1 • Hyeonseo Lee’s Escape from North Korea

Embracing Beauty • Day 2 • A Teacher’s Story

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Embracing Beauty • Day 2 • A Teacher’s Story

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Today’s example of embracing beauty comes from Blythe, a dedicated kindergarten teacher from Canyon, Texas.

Blythe writes:

I have been contemplating your request for things of beauty. I did not want to send you a picture of a sunset (though I find that to be of great beauty) but instead a story of grit, determination and beauty.

14466880_10100829653395510_1911851069_oThis is the story of one of my sweet littles. I will call him “Cal”.

Cal came into my class with a bright personality, a twin brother, and ears that could barely hear. He wore powerful hearing aids, and I had a special microphone that I wore that would take my voice directly to his ears.

Still, he struggled with learning.

It was my great dilemma as a teacher: how do I teach someone to read when language is made up of sounds, and he cannot hear the sounds?

My heart ached for my sweet Call, because he wanted to learn to read so badly. He would sigh as he realized he had gotten something wrong, and sometimes his resigned face would send me from the room in tears.

Over time, my dilemma went from how do I teach him to read to how do I teach him to not give up? How do I teach him to keep trying when it is going to take him 75% more effort than every one else to do things that come easy for others? How do I teach him to love learning and to fight for it?

And then I remembered sitting in the office of one of the university teachers who inspired me to be a teacher. She was reteaching me a lesson that I had not understood from class, a lesson that I still did not understand, and when I was ready to give up, she stopped me, and said “Blythe, your job is to show up ready to learn and my job is to teach you. If you do not understand it the way I am teaching, it is my job to find a way to teach you so that you DO understand. Your job is to show up, my job is to teach. You showed up, so I will find a way, and I will keep at it until you understand.”

Your job is to show up, my job is to teach. You showed up, so I will find a way, and I will keep at it until you understand.

This teacher changed the way I looked at learning. Suddenly things seemed possible with a good teacher and lots of determination. This is what I wanted my sweet Cal to understand, so I would research and try new things, and if it did not work I would look for something else. I was determined, and I wanted him to know it.

Around spring break and I was starting to become discouraged again. But then it happened.

Beauty came on a Thursday afternoon.

Cal was practicing sight words on my iPad when he walked over with the most delightful grin on his face. “Look, Miss Chapman! I wrote a sentence!”

I looked at the iPad to see “I see a cat” written in kindergarten script.

“I see a cat.” It is a deceptively simple sentence until you know that the word cat was not on any papers in our room, nor was it posted anywhere on the walls. Cal had sounded out the word cat with no help. He had put together that sounds go with letters, and letters make words and words hold meaning.

The smile on his sweet face is something I will always remember. He fought for that moment, and it was pure joy and beauty (with some tears mixed in). I don’t know if Cal will remember writing “cat” that day, but I will always hold that memory close. I was reminded that faithfulness and determination are built upon daily. I was reminded that the fight to learn is worth it.

Beauty comes in many forms, and on that day it was a six year old boy whose ears did not work, but who figured out how to write words!

Nate’s note: Blythe sent me this story as an example of the beauty of a child overcoming challenges to learn, but I would add that it’s also a story of the beauty of a persistent and invested educator, determined that all of the children in her care will succeed in learning.

Stay tuned for more examples of embracing beauty, and please share these posts with your friends each day this month! Remember, this blog doesn’t have any advertising, and I make no money off of getting hits on stories. I just want to counteract the ugliness we see each day with small and huge examples of the beauty that exists in this world!

Also, if you have an example of beauty that you want to share, drop me a line at info@thimblerigsark.com and I’ll be happy to include it!

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Embracing Beauty • Day 1 • Hyeonseo Lee’s Escape from North Korea

October has finally arrived, and it couldn’t have arrived soon enough. The world has wearied me with its focus on the negative and ugly, and so I’m pleased to be spending some time over the next 31 days searching out beauty.

I do want to point out that while beauty is more or less subjective, there are some objective ideas of beauty that I’ll be exploring. Also, if people want to contribute their ideas of beauty (music, poetry, art, photography, even ideas or stories), I’ll be happy to include them.

So, if you want to be a part of this small project, and my attempt to overcome the ugliness of the world with a bit of counterprogramming, please email me at info@thimblerigsark.com.

And so, my first contribution to the 31 days of Embracing Beauty, and it’s a bit unconventional. It’s the story of Hyeonseo Lee, a young woman who defected from North Korea, and eventually helped her family to defect. I include Ms. Lee’s story – not to be political – but because her story is a beautiful and inspiring story of a woman’s bravery, her struggle to live a free life, and her care and sacrifice for her family.

Enjoy, and I’ll see you tomorrow with my second day of embracing beauty!

Read about my 31 Days of Embracing Beauty project here.

31 Days of Embracing Beauty

Every day it’s the same ugly thing, isn’t it?

Headline news about the latest bloody terrorist attack.

Gleeful stories about the most recent insult one presidential candidate has lobbed at the other.

Joyful reminders about the next big humiliating controversy swirling around a celebrity who has made unfortunate choices.

Merciless arguments about politics or sports or current affairs that don’t seem to have any hope of resolution.

It’s no great revelation that ugly news sells, and so the internet revels in ugly news. After all, an ugly headline can get a lot of attention. And if the story is ugly enough, it might anger people to the point that they share it to their friends on social media, which means that other people will get angry and share. Ugly comments are made, angry rebuttals are flung back, and before you know it, everyone is knee deep in the digital pig slop.

Meanwhile, the ones reporting the ugliness revel in the ad dollars that all these angry hits bring in, even as they push the “publish” button to send the next ugly story out, starting the whole process all over again.

Well, I’m tired of it. Tired of it all.

The ugliness and anger and fear and spite and hate is wearing me down, even if I don’t realize it on a conscious level. Did you know that studies have shown that over-exposure to negativity and ugliness can even create PTSD-like symptoms in people?

So, odds are, you’re feeling tired as well.

How do we respond? What do we do? Do we just load up on scotch and bourbon and sit in a dark corner of the room lamenting the state of the universe?

We could do that. Or we could fight back.

In The Idiot, Dostoevsky wrote that beauty will save the world, and I’ve decided that it’s time for this blog to join the resistance, and do an admittedly small part to help the world be saved.

Thimblerig’s Ark is turning the tables on the ugliness of the internet for the month of October, and for 31 days, this blog will focus exclusively on beauty.

To clarify, from October 1 to October 31, I will post daily reminders of the beauty of life. It might be uplifting and beautiful news stories, it might be inspirational or joyful photographs, it might be poetry, literary excerpts, film clips, music… the connection will be that these items will somehow capture the spirit and meaning of the word beauty.

And I’m going to need your help with this. I invite you to help join this beauty revolution by sending me your own favorite examples of beauty, and I’ll post them as well. A second part of this plan succeeding is that you make the commitment to share the beauty with the rest of the world on your own social media over the course of the month, helping counter the world’s ugliness by giving our own connections the opportunity to embrace some beauty.

While the forces of ugliness continue trying to push us down – especially in the days leading up to the election – why don’t we all engage in some counter-programming of our own, and turn our eyes to beauty?

Can you imagine?

Please send any ideas or examples of beauty to me at info@thimblerigsark.com, and include some thoughts on what inspired you to send in that particular item. If you want to include your own contact information, feel free, and I’ll add that to the post.

Also, please include a link for the work, and/or information about about the content creator, so that we can give that person their due as well.

*This idea was inspired by an interview with screenwriter, Barbara Nicolosi.

**I have no advertisements on this blog, and I receive no money for hits. So, feel free to share the blog itself with others – or just share the items you find here. But if you do that, I just ask that you give proper attribution to the content creators, even if you don’t mention Thimblerig’s Ark.