Finding Beauty

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A couple of nights ago Bree made me a deal: she would make dinner if I went to the dock accessed off of our campsite to take a few pictures in the evening light. Of course, it was a pretty good deal on my end, so I accepted.

Having visited the dock earlier in the day, I did not expect much from the photos. On first glance, the dock was quite uninspiring and if I dare say it, ugly. The boats were not old enough to be charming, and not new enough or well maintained enough to appear ritzy. The water was a murky brown and not very deep at that. The dock was a hodge podge mix of wood and concrete. Nothing about the dock made me want to stop and revisit it, but a deal is a deal.

Upon first entering the dock, I felt as I did earlier – unimpressed. Knowing that I had some time to kill while Bree cooked, I started looking more closely at the colors, lines, shapes, and the even the effects that the fading light had on the dock. As I continued to look closer, I noticed some very interesting and previously unnoticed things, and even got some awesome photos out of it.

Having been on the road for close to a month, now, this experience is a simple example of a skill that we are learning while cycle touring. Previous vacations, and our typical vacation style, is to jump quickly from highlight to highlight – whether that is in Hawaii from waterfall to beach to Buddhist temple, or like Boston from Battle Road to the Freedom Trail to the flying trapeze lessons. This is not a bad way to travel, since we are often severely constrained by time and want to make the most of our vacation, but when traveling by bicycle with virtually unlimited time, things have to be approached differently. While some of the regions that we have traveled through have been borderline magical, there are others that have been mediocre or even downright unpleasant. What we have learned, though, is to look for beauty even in the mediocre and unpleasant. Just like the dock, you can find good in pretty much any location or circumstance, and doing so may just transform the way you look at it.

If nothing else, when we come home, we will have learned this valuable skill – to look for beauty wherever we are – whether it is slapping us in the face or whether we have to dig a little – because it is seeming more and more that it is always there.

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