I walk by a park and pause for a moment. The trees stand still, unswayed by the wind. The leaves fall in a slow and calm manner, as if it were a pace of their own choosing. The autumnal colours are fantastic. I take a deep breath and find a smile on my face reflecting the joy of the experience. Such beauty in nature, I think.
But is the process of nature intrinsically beautiful? The tree is losing its leaves. The leaves are dead. Their range of colours could be an expression of pain, a slow progress towards death. Is this beautiful? Have you seen a sick child’s colour change? Seen them turn pale or blue? Could this not also be beauty in nature from a tree’s point of view?
We could say that this is only natural – it happens all the time – leaves fall and grow again. So do humans, we die and more are born. Just a part of nature. How beautiful, yes?
A leaf in the wind may indeed be beautiful. But is the fungus eating away at the leaf also beautiful? What about the lost ant sticking onto the leaf for dear life? Also beautiful? Is it beautiful if we didn’t know about the fungi and the ants? So that the less we know the more beauty we see?
Nature is beautiful, but it is also ugly. And that’s okay. The tree, the leaves, the colours and the wind – all a part of nature – are beautiful, but they are also ugly. We too are a part of nature. We are beautiful but we are also ugly – in all our parts and all their sum. It’s okay.