Sunday, August 26, 2012

What if you walked in beauty?

Vinita Dawra Nangia

Do beautiful environs ensure a beautiful life? It is orderliness rather than scenery that lends beauty to life!

I sometimes wonder what it must feel like to live surrounded by natural beauty…to wake up every morning to Nature’s myriad moods, each more beguiling, more awe-inspiring than the other! What if I woke to the murmur of an ocean and the sight of miles upon miles of aquamarine blue? What if my home was surrounded by folds of undulating emerald meadows, just kissed awake by the rising sun, nightly dewiness still clinging to their cheeks? What if majestic mountain chains surrounded my home, or silent snowflakes fell outside my window? Would I be a different person if I lived surrounded by beauty? If, instead of the chaos and ugly urban structures my eyes rest upon all the time, they were rested by the sight of emerald greens, aquamarine blues, stormy red or heavenly blue skies? If instead of miles upon miles of traffic and angry horns, I saw verdant greens and heard the silence of Nature? Just thinking about it gives me a sense of peace like nothing else! Are people who live in beautiful surroundings actually happier than rest of the world? The world’s happiest countries, according to the 2011 Legatum Prosperity Index, also happen to be some of the world’s most beautiful ones – the Happy 10 being Norway, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Switzerland, Netherlands and the US. Is that merely a coincidence? The measures used to arrive at the happiness index of course did not include the beauty of natural environs, depending rather on indicators such as health, wealth and education. But, is there some manner in which natural beauty contributes to the happiness and success of a nation and its people? Or, do people always surrounded by beauty become immune to it after a while? Difficult to imagine, but maybe beauty and silence grate on their nerves as much as the cacophony of hectic cities irritates ours! After all, you could get used to just anything! Says a friend, Manasi who has lived in both beautiful and ugly surroundings during the course of her work, “Beauty of surroundings certainly helps one feel happy, gives confidence and improves self-esteem. But it is order in surroundings that adds to the beauty and happiness. Like law and order for instance? A feeling of safety and well-being. Can a beautiful person also be the happiest? Similarly, can a beautiful town need not be the most livable in every sense of the word!” She is indeed right. Basic amenities, an ordered existence and comforts are important to one’s well-being. You cannot live an entire life just looking at beauty and reflecting! If you are fearful for your safety and that of your dear ones, beauty cannot touch you. If you are struggling to eke out a daily living, your beautiful environs cannot impact you positively. Another friend Jyotirmaya, who now lives in beautiful Sweden, says, “Beautiful countries that are also the happiest have actually harnessed their beauty and maintained it well through human effort! In Sweden people are happy because they have taken care of two things that most bother humans. One is money; the other is burden of society, religion and convention. This is a supremely liberal, though rule-based society. So people are very happy and cheerful always. And no, they are not immune to the beauty that surrounds them. If you grow immune to beauty, it means you have stopped growing emotionally. Just yesterday a colleague was talking about the sensuality of feeling fresh snow under one's feet…” So, while Nature soothes and relaxes, the lesson to be learnt is the orderliness, the pace, the dependability of Nature. It’s not lack of natural surroundings that irritates those bound to urban areas, it’s a lack of orderliness and beauty in our daily lives that has been proven scientifically to restrict our ability to focus, making us irritable, distracted and less productive. You don’t have to necessarily be born in the lap of Nature in order to be happy. Nature can be invoked and cajoled to strike roots wherever, and her lessons implemented anywhere. If it is orderliness, neatness, rule of law and liberation that we miss, why not create it for ourselves in the very place we live? And be naturally happy! Next time I watch Richard Gere pause to look at an aquamarine ocean in a movie, and move on unaffected, I will try not to angrily think he doesn’t deserve to live amongst beautiful surroundings. For, that is where this column started…

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