Image for post
Image for post
Photo from the Academia bridge in Venice, Italy

“The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection. And our whole society, the engine of our society, is geared towards making us connect with things not people. If you are not a good consumer capitalist citizen, if you’re spending your time bonding with the people around you and not buying stuff — in fact, we are trained from a very young age to focus our hopes and our dreams and our ambitions on things we can buy and consume. And drug addiction is really a subset of that.”
~ Johann Hari

*

“We cut down the forests, we’re pushing animals into closer contact with people, animals are being trafficked, and many of them from different parts of Asia and even from Africa are ending up in the wildlife meat markets in Asia in horrible, unhygienic conditions. … So it’s our fault. It’s our disrespect,” she continues. “Here are we, the most intellectual creature that’s ever walked the planet, so how come we’re destroying our only home?”

*

“When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the green heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

Wendell Berry

I’m a hermit who likes beauty. I like beautiful spaces, objects and creations. Art, food, furniture — all that. People I find taxing, except for a very few. I’m happy with the company of the one everlastingly beautiful person I’m lucky enough to live with. She has a predilection for beauty even more pronounced than mine. Her mission in life seems to be to create beauty everywhere she goes. She naturally surrounds herself with beauty.

She herself carries an eternal aura of beauty. I’m always amazed at her unfailing instinct for arranging spaces with whatever comes to hand.

So, I wonder at this quotation about how our culture is oriented toward objects instead of relatedness. I think we become neurotic at least in part because our built environment is so ugly. Living surrounded by constructions that could be described as vacuus and soulless, built not for beauty but for efficiency and show, we could be forgiven for falling into depression or addiction.

Humans need beauty, beauty in objects and spaces as well as in thoughts and emotions. Beauty installed in our environment would go a long way to heal our sense of meaninglessness, I believe.

I am put at ease by living surrounded by old, more elaborate streets, churches and buildings created by master craftsmen centuries ago. Living surrounded by the spirit of the past, when the scale and form of built environments expressed and fit the human need for beauty.

The built environment we moderns inhabit often speaks more to the ego than the soul. No wonder we require psychotherapy. We’re squirming in pain just navigating such constant reminders of disconnection from Soul.

In our current reassessment of where we’re going in our civilization, perhaps we can start to create towns and cities that incorporate our basic need for beauty.

The photo I include here is where we lived for several years surrounded by the kind of beauty only the Italians could create. Living with that level of beauty makes you feel normal again.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store