The Experience of Awe in Beauty

Sean Bolton
Mar 11, 2016 · 2 min read

Do you ever feel in that mode of just wanting to stare at something in wonder? Perhaps you never have desired it directly, but certainly you have experienced it. Wether a beautiful man/woman, the trees of a forrest, or the sky above, there exists a stillness that is so active it can easily be missed by looking away. So you have to stare; it would be rude not to. The experience is filled with an energy that can’t truly be described, only experienced.

Beauty, as we will call it, exists not only in things, but in relationship. Like that smile that will appear on any stranger’s face when a happy child comes skipping down the street with her parents. Beauty in this case will have the same requirements: you have to stare — it is so active it can easily be missed by looking away. That is why all thoughts temporarily leave the brain.

Can you recall a time you cried at a beautiful connection between two people in a movie? Surely you’ve experienced something like this yourself. You were only thinking about that beauty at that moment. It’s captivating.

Our bodies are somehow designed to freeze at beauty. Or perhaps time slows down. Perhaps our brains find something so worth paying attention to that our normal rut of a thought pattern is dislodged and full awareness comes into being and the only way to experience it is to slow time down.

Like the curves of her body that I told her I could stare at for hours, and she smiled, and I did stare at for an absurdly long time. Or that tree that stood so majestically that I tried to capture it at least 15 different times in a photo to no avail, that I just wanted to keep staring at, that I tried to get in a picture again but didn’t come close. Or that time when my Dad told me that thing I had always wanted one of my parents to say to me in a particular moment such as that, where I actually started crying because I did a little when I saw it happen to someone else so when it was me of course I would. These were moments where I felt human, where life felt strong, where time slowed down.

Sometimes it’s ok to just, as they say, stop and smell the roses. Because at the end of it all, the worst that happens is that you spent a little more time admiring and experiencing the beauty in your life. And that doesn’t sound too bad to me. Walk, don’t run.

Sean Bolton

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I’m a design and growth focused product maker on a mission to make the world feel more human. Learn more: