Recently, someone asked me “What is beauty?”
It got me thinking…When I was little, the most beautiful person I had seen ever was my first grade teacher. She had long black hair parted in the middle and tied in a long braid, she used to elegantly drape a cotton sari and pair it with simple sandals, she had long eye lashes, freckles on her face and a very soft voice, and she had a stern look and a powerful gait that reflected an inner strength. To me, she was beautiful – intrinsically and extrinsically.
I remember my first trip to Paris. It was my first international trip outside of India, where I grew up. I still vividly recall first time setting eyes on the Eifel tower; I recall walking under the giant structure and feeling overwhelmed with the well put up structure of wrought iron. As I took the elevator to the top, I was struck by the complete view of the city of Paris, Seine River flowing close to the majestic tower structure; its history feeling like the triumph of mankind. To me, the entire experience was beautiful – as if I was in a communication that generated an intense emotion of joy and sense of accomplishment and transcendence.
Beauty is found is something done well. It is observed in the elegant shape and in superior craftsmanship that goes with it. It is a virtuous display of art.
E.g. Natural beauty is in a landscape with mountains in the background, trees and flowers with perfect lighting and a stream of water at a distance.
E.g. Artistic beauty is found in a beautiful diamond necklace – in its symmetry and meticulous workmanship. It also triggers an assessment of intelligence, access to rare materials and planning ability.
So, beauty is in design. It’s in simplicity, it’s a warm invitation, it’s the joy of discovery, a creative quest for mankind. It tells a story of wisdom, an ecosystem and time that is immersive.
And now the most beautiful thing to me – It is air travel.
The idea of airports designed to facilitate take off, landing, departures and arrivals is fascinating. My favorite is the take off – the tiny window of the airplane captures an amazing scene – at the take -off, the building get smaller slowly as elevation increases, the view of the horizon and clouds close by is breathtaking. The airplane pierces through the wind to get to cruising elevation and makes a roar as it fights gravity. When it reaches the cruising elevation, the idea of sitting in steel tube 30,000 feet over ground simply is exhilarating. And then there is a sense of peace that takes over and new possibilities of experiences open up as you get to your destination.
There is a story of evolution of collective wisdom of mankind, collaboration and planning that leaves you feeling fortunate about being born in modern times. You feel a sense of pride for your community who overcame a physical limitation to fly and made it a new way of travel for generations to come.