Ordinary Beauty

Gazing around my office, my eyes rest on the elegance of a simple Passamaquoddy basket. A delicately woven creation of golden sweetgrass and blueberry stained ash, each strand is a threaded moment in time. Worked by human hands, it has been woven into a distinctive wholeness all its own. I am struck by its intrinsic coherence.

My mother was a cultural anthropologist who curated artifacts of beauty from Native American artisans, especially baskets. She knew their lives and their stories. She studied their arts, and along with them, their hands and their hearts. She gave me this basket.

There is a simple elegance in each human being, as there is in each work of art. Rough grasses are looped through smooth bark.The challenges and tragedies of life are part of a woven pattern, intertwined in a greater innate wholeness.

It wasn’t just that my mother had a wonderful eye for artistry, and a deep appreciation for native cultural wisdom. She was someone who recognized the quiet enchantment of every day life. She had the ability to hone in on things that other people passed by. She was a person who would stop and notice. And she invited others to do the same.

Each session of therapy has the potential to reveal truth, and beauty. Observing the threads that show up are important moments of honoring what is true and real. Asking and listening. Noticing. Taking in the artist, the weave, and the work of art itself.

There is an intrinsic beauty in each life. Even in the most obfuscated and tragic lives. There is dignity, there is revelation. If I didn’t know this to be true, I wouldn’t be a psychotherapist.

In some ways, therapy is a series of ordinary moments. Sipping tea. Sharing a memory. Taking a breath. Finding a feeling. Planting ones feet on the ground. What’s different about these moments is how we experience them.

Honoring ordinary beauty is one of the greatest teachings I received from my mother. Attention to the simple yarns of each person’s life reveals an intrinsic coherence and grace that is beyond individual moments in time. With patience and devoted awareness, a greater design emerges.

It’s about stopping and noticing.

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