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My Experience of Beauty

Alanna Albano

As I sit at my computer, typing this essay about what I find to be beautiful in this world, I listen to the harmonious sounds that pour forth from my computer's speakers. I play Beethoven not only because I love to listen to his music, but also to motivate my writing. I reason that if I listen to music that I think is beautiful, then I will better be able to produce a paper on the subject matter at hand. It is an interesting dilemma: beauty is a common enough term, and one would like to think it should be quite easy to write a paper about it. However, this is not the case at all. Struggling to figure out how exactly to go about describing my experiences of beauty in this paper has shown me that I have not taken the time to truly contemplate what I find beautiful in my life, and why. I have never put my perception of "beauty" into words on paper, until now. Of all the things I find beautiful, my family relationships are the most beautiful because they stem from love. Love has kept us together through good times and bad times, and it has helped us to find unlimited strength and support in each other.

I have four younger brothers, named Matthew, Ryan, Jesse, and Jeremy. Matthew is
eighteen, Ryan is sixteen, Jesse is ten, and Jeremy is eight. The relationship that my brothers and I share is very beautiful for me. Matt, who possesses a love for math and science (just as I do), will constantly try to ask me questions or start up a conversation with me about different problems in calculus or physics. Sometimes his questions are so complex that I cannot give him an answer, but I still take delight in our talks. Sometimes we will take a walk to the town library at night in the brisk cold, discussing his latest wrestling match, or remaining in peaceful silence as we watch out for puddles in the pouring rain. As we walk, we find safety and security in the fact that we are together in the spooky darkness. Although he is also a big science fan, Ryan is the comedian of the family and will always try to throw a little joke or funny remark my way if he notices that I am not feeling well or I am acting cranky. If jokes do not work, then his next alternative is to offer himself as my personal "assistant" and ask if I would like him to bring me a glass of water or a pillow. To these offers I sigh and say no, because I do not want him fetching things for me. Privately I cannot help but smile to myself, because it is very sweet of him to try and help me. Ryan seems disappointed because he thinks that he has failed in his attempts to make me feel better; however, little does he realize that to me he has not failed, nor has he ever failed. Ryan unknowingly demonstrates the truth of this statement as he places a blanket over me while I drift off to sleep on the couch.

Jesse and Jeremy, my two youngest brothers, both have autism. I tell this fact because I want my readers to understand that although autism is a terrible disorder, it is still very possible to look beyond this disorder and see a wonderful kind of beauty, the kind of beauty that only love could see. Jesse has a special game that he likes to play with me, and he calls it "Tickle." He comes up to me, grabs my hand, and then pulls me along just far enough and shouts "tickle." He runs away and I chase after him, finally catching up to him in order to tickle him. Sometimes he will snuggle up against me on the couch as we watch Finding Nemo together. Other times he will make me sing songs from Annie, or we will just end up being silly with each other and laughing. If he gets too silly, he may accidently spit his soda all over himself. To this I respond by sighing and wiping his shirt with a paper towel; yet, I cannot help but chuckle because he still looks very cute. Jeremy is also very cute. Although Jeremy does not play the games that Jesse does and prefers to be alone more often, he still likes to watch movies with me on the couch. Sometimes, he will even come up to me, wrap his arms around my neck very tightly, and plant little kisses on my cheek. I hug and kiss him as well, and then I pick him up and spin him around until he laughs like crazy. One of Jeremy's favorite things is going out for walks. He can often be found putting his shoes on and trying to pull me out of the house for a walk, even if it is minus ten degrees outside. Although I am hesitant to face the frigid outdoors, I know that seeing the contented look on his face will make the journey worthwhile.

The relationship with my father has been another source of beauty in my life. Throughout my years at Bryn Mawr College, he has been not only an excellent father to me, but also a dedicated friend, mentor, and source of strength and support. If I was having a difficult time at school, he was the one I would call. When I decided that my major was going to be chemistry, he was the first to know. When Valentine's Day came and that special someone did not, he would send me a card. If I was short on cash for buying textbooks, he would send me some money. If he knew I was having relentless chocolate cravings, he would send me chocolate in the mail. When I was home during winter breaks, sometimes he and I would go out to our favorite steakhouse, just the two of us, to order our favorite dishes and reminisce about the year. Or we would just go out to get some errands done, enjoying some peaceful time in the car.

On my right hand, I wear a beautiful item that my dad bought for me as an early
graduation present. It is my Bryn Mawr ring, with its picture of three owls at the top. The ring is not as shiny as it used to be, and it is quite scratched since I wear it all of the time, but to me the ring is one of the most beautiful items I have ever owned. The ring reminds me of my father and his love for me, because he is the one who insisted that he buy the ring for me to have and enjoy. The ring also serves as a reminder of Bryn Mawr, and all of my classes and experiences there. It shows where I have belonged for the past three years, the place that I call my second home.

My father often took me and my brothers to the Jersey shore, and these trips introduced another beautiful object to me: the ocean. With its sparkling sands, blue foaming waters, and assortment of deep sea wildlife, the ocean has always filled me with a sense of awe and mystery. Some of the memories tucked away in my mind have fondly recalled my days as a little girl and my visits to the beach. The various sensory experiences that I had of the ocean created pleasant memories in my mind that make me view the ocean as something beautiful. I often scoured the sand for beautiful shells and pebbles, small souvenirs to take back home with me. Occasionally I would find a small crab digging in the sand, or a slimy transparent jellyfish washed ashore. I absolutely enjoyed strolling along the boardwalk, smelling delicious food cooking and hearing the noisy sounds of the arcades. The seagulls chirped high up in the air; and, as annoying as they were, I still considered them to be beautiful simply because they were part of the ambiance. I remember how I used to run right up to the waves, my feet sinking into the wet sand as I hurried to watch the waters before they swished and churned back into the ocean. I would then run away, very excited yet somewhat frightened, as the mighty waves crashed back onto the sand and began to chase me. I liked dipping my feet in the water, but I almost never went swimming. As beautiful as the ocean was to me, it also seemed very big, scary and powerful. It could swallow me up in an instant if it wanted to. As scared as I was, I only went out into the water if my daddy took me in. It was only when I went out swimming with him that I could experience the beauty of the ocean outside of my comfort zone. There was no sand to support my feet, no soft beach towel to run to, and the waters were not even calm. I felt completely vulnerable since it was just my dad and I, and the water all around us. Despite my fears, I simply could not help feeling captivated and awestruck by the marvelous blue beauty that stretched for endless miles away from us.

Since four years of age I have been a dancer, and I have always viewed the image of the dancer, as well as the dance itself, to be quite beautiful. Many times, I have gazed at the dancers during a performance, admiring their muscular form and noting how gracefully and dramatically they moved across the stage. Whether it was The Nutcracker or Chicago, the dancers captivated me in the way that they would so freely express the emotions of the moment with their bodies. The theaters and the stage scenery often added another element of beauty to the dance performances. I remember sitting in the balcony of the Academy of Music, watching a performance of The Nutcracker. I recall the soft lighting, the old wooden seats, the intricate ceiling and the chandelier above; these all added a special feeling to my viewing of the dances that I knew could not be found elsewhere. The sparkling candy canes and lightly falling snow on the stage made the dances seem that much more magical and thrilling to my eyes. Tchaikovsky's musical score added the final piece that made the performance a beautiful memory for me.

My experience of beauty would not be complete if I were not to mention any kind of
actual artwork that I find to be beautiful. I am very fond of art, and the artist whose paintings I admire most is Pierre-Auguste Renoir. In my old home, there used to hang a Renoir painting in our living room, entitled On the Terrace (1). In this painting, a little girl stands next to a sitting young woman on a patio that overlooks a lake. I never paid much attention to it at first; yet, as I got older, I couldn't help but feel the eyes of the little girl in the picture staring at me. It was almost as if she was silently pleading for me take a closer look at her and the young lady sitting next to her, and to not ignore all of the wondrous beauty that the painting had to offer. Upon further scrutiny, I began to notice how brilliantly Renoir combined the different colors in the painting to make it eye catching, but not overpowering. His gentle brush strokes added a touch of softness to the art, which nicely blended the colors together and almost made it seem as if I was viewing some sort of peaceful dream. His paintings all seem very inviting and approachable; many of them depict happy social gatherings and dances. These paintings almost seem to draw out their hands and say, "Welcome! Won't you join in the fun?" The fact that these works of art can convey that kind of a message to me only serves to heighten my experience of their beauty.

My struggles prove to be fruitful after all; I have succeeded in describing what sorts of things I find to be beautiful. Writing this paper has also shown me that my own experience of beauty is best understood by looking at what I value most in my life: the relationships that I share with my loved ones.

WWW Sources

1)WebMuseum, Paris

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