Sunday, June 1, 2014

Day 300 of 365: What is Beautiful

There are a lot of things people don't normally tell you when you buy a home. They joke about mortgage people putting you through the ringer, but they don't tell you that the mortgage people will be monitoring your every move and asking for a formal letter every time you make a large deposit or withdrawal. People neglect to tell you that you will spend an arm, a leg, and four or five weekends at Home Depot, buying all the things you never even thought twice about when renting (like a long ladder, a shovel, a weed whacker...).

And sometimes there are things that no one -- not even those blogs dedicated to first-time homeownership -- will ever talk about: like when you experience springtime in your house for the first time and you genuinely do not know which plants are annuals, which plants are perennials, and which plants are weeds.

The previous owners of this house were avid gardeners. Which I am not complaining about: one of the things that drew me into this abode was the beautiful landscape. However, I spent most of April wonder which plants would stay dead and which plants would spring back to life like the phoenix. And after I figured that out, I had to figure out which plants would bloom into beautiful flowers and which plants were just weeds.

Then I had the task of removing the weeds from our walkway. In this case, a weed was anything that was attempting to grow in between the stonework. This included planned-out plants that had pollinated and were somehow able to spread into less hospitable regions.

This whole gardening experience made me think about what we consider to be beautiful. Here I was, looking at these plants, wondering to myself, "Should I consider you ugly?" Here I was, looking at plants that were considered beautiful under very set parameters, and going, "Sorry, but you make our house look unkempt if I don't kill you off."

It's the same way a kid loves to pick dandelions and genuinely cannot understand why their mom is less than thrilled to see them in their backyard. What is so bad about dandelions, aside from the fact that they proliferate at an absurdly high rate? Is their commonality that only thing keeping them from being adored like their lilac counterparts (practical vegetable gardening issues aside)?

I know this post is about two sentences away from telling everyone to link hands around the world and sing, "Kumbaya." But it's absolutely fascinating to stop and really think about what we consider beautiful. There are certain things our brains will biologically gravitate towards -- patterns, symmetry, the "golden ratio" -- but what about everything else? We certainly don't adore gardenias over dandelions because of symmetry.

Just something to ponder while you join hands and sing campfire songs. Kumbaya, my Lord, kumbaya... Hey, pass the granola my way.

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