Let us leave pretty women to men without imagination.
— Marcel Proust
Now — allow me a paraphrase of Proust:
Let us leave pretty things to those without imagination.
And even more now, let’s invert that paraphrase to its broadest interpretation:
All things are beautiful to those with imagination. (!)
You’ve had that experience. So have I. That experience of suddenly discovering the rabidly, revolutionarily, ecstatically beautiful in a broken urbanscape . . . or junk . . . or something barren . . .
Or in a weary moment . . . a heart broken open moment . . . a moment of pain . . .
I remember working at my Dad’s tire store as a teenager, changing tires in the humid-hot South Florida summer. Back then, without air conditioning in the bays, with a fan that you heard more than felt, it seemed as though even the buildings were wilting in the oven of August.
I had to run around the outside of the shop to fetch something — I still recall this vividly — and there stood a puddle of water with an oily sheen atop it — it was thrilling to behold in its shimmery pearlescence. I was gripped by it and had to move back and forth to catch the view from multiple angles. The striking beauty there — like the Grand Canyon — could not be held from solely one vantage point.
Not far away were stacks of old tires we’d flung there till we could haul them some day to the dump. All around lay cracked pavement . . . the sound of cars whizzing by this unpretty expanse of suburban-industrial decrepitude . . . .
This oily puddle was my first experience with the beauty inherent in everything. Everything. It’s there. In everything.
All things are beautiful to those who can see.