What do we consider beautiful?
It’s a question I contemplated this week, and I’d like to tell you why. Then tell you why it’s relevant to this arctic trek. But you mustn’t judge me for my initial judging. You’ll get what I mean if you read on…
I was in Coventry for a conference, and meeting my Swansea-based co-author of our Journal of Business Ethics article for the first time since it was accepted and published (for those of you not in academia, this was an AWESOME achievement). So, a celebration was in order. Here’s how the conversation with the receptionist of my hotel went:
‘What’s the best restaurant in Coventry?’
‘Well, we’ve got a Wagamama’
‘Ummm, have you got anything else?’
‘I would recommend Cosy Club – it’s got lots of pictures on the wall, and you can sit outside on the balcony for a drink before’
‘Ohh, that sounds nice. Has it got a good view’
‘Yeah, it’s really nice. It’s the fairy lights on Primark’
Obviously, I was a little underwhelmed.
But I thanked her, made arrangements with my co-author, and wandered into town.
We had planned to meet at the Lady Godiva statue, immediately outside the restaurant (note: why had she not mentioned the view of the Lady Godiva statue??). Unfortunately, while the statue itself was endearing, the beggars around it were not. So I proceeded inside, and upstairs and waited on the balcony. And the view was bleak. You could also call it ugly. If you wanted to. Picture post-war, inexpensive, office blocks. This was the main town square.
And then I reflected on the fact that this looked so bleak because the more attractive Broadgate in Coventry was bombed out of existence by Nazi bombing raids.
And I realised that the fairy lights on Primark probably were the most beautiful thing about it.
How arrogant I was to laugh (not out loud) at the receptionist. She lived in a town that wasn’t blessed with the beautiful buildings on virtually every corner that Edinburgh offered. But more than that, it also lacked the beauty of geography that nature provided.
In Edinburgh, on one side of us is the expansive and tempestuous firth of forth: like glass in still conditions, ferocious and aggressive white-tops in the wind, and often cloaked in a mysterious haar.. is all seasons. On the other side is central Edinburgh with ‘Arthurs’ Seat’ an overpowering rocky crag and mountain that dominate the skyline.
But how often to I race past this beauty? Rushing to work, rushing to school drop off, rushing to the supermarket. If I stopped and looked up and around I would see such beauty – some provided by nature, some man made.
Where we are going in the arctic almost all the beauty we will see will be provided by nature. Some the same every year, some changing with the weather and the seasons. I’m looking forward to stopping my busy life and taking it in. Enjoying the quiet moments devoid of human influence, and full of nature. But the question really is – what’s stopping me doing the same here? What’s stopping any of us?