We were watching a documentary about the New York photographer Saul Leiter when he reflected on something that made me think—quite a lot, in fact—about what brings beauty into our lives. At a particular moment, speaking about his life as a photographer of daily scenes, he declared, «I have nothing against a view of life that considers it worthwhile to pursue certain notions of beauty».
The idea of pursuing beauty is not foreign to those of us who dedicate part of our lives to the arts, but in the context of the documentary (Tomas Leach’s In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter), I began to reason about the way we transfer, or not, that love of transcendental beauty to the rest of our lives. I imagined all those little houses around my village, so charming, those flawless raised granaries, the boundaries, the enclosures; all was in harmony with its surroundings. And I thought about how in a land of natural beauty, we are sometimes able to abandon in an almost systematic way those «notions of beauty» that define us in some ways.
Beauty is accessible. The less our ancestors had, the more they were able to surround themselves with beauty. Perhaps it is the lack of time that makes us forget that the love with which things are done truly matters: that is the beauty of which I speak. It matters how we say good morning, how we help others cross the street, how we order our 250 grams of cheese, how we thank others, how we fry an egg. In reality, all matters, and when it stops mattering is when sadness dampens our existence.
Sometimes, what makes something beautiful is simply the process, and filling our time making beautiful things is even more important than doing nothing, or doing too much.