Wes Cecil on Wisdom and Beauty

posted by: Wesley Ismay

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Wes Cecil Uses of Philsophy: Wisdom and Beauty

How often do you get sucked into doing something that you get so outcome focused that the process itself becomes evil, unpleasant, and then when you get to the supposedly worthwhile conclusion you find that there is no joy left in it? Because where is the joy supposed to come from, where is the beauty supposed to come from? Again, where is the wisdom in this? And that is where I think the overlap between beauty and wisdom really is in this question of discernment. Of seeing for yourself, hearing for yourself, tasting for yourself. And then deciding.

It doesn’t mean you are right. But if you consistently say, well this seems beautiful, the very worst thing that can happen to you is that you will consistently have a beautiful experience. If you consistently choose between the beautiful and something else, and you always choose the beautiful, by and large you will end up with the beautiful. Which seems like a series of good decision trees. This is the wisdom part of it.

I’m not saying this is simple by the way because discernment can be hard. We have all had that moment of “Oh, this will be great! This will be grand! This will be wonderful!” and then you go nnnyeahh. That did not work out. I thought this was going to be a great experience, but no it’s not. So now I have to revisit, I have to think, I have to reflect. I have to grow from that.

And then you try again. Oh, this is beautiful, I do like this.

But my suspicious is very strong that if we never make it a priority, if we don’t get up in the morning and say what can I do today to be wise and to make my day beautiful, more joyful, more pleasant, more wonderful, then statistically your chances diminish DRAMATICALLY!

This is how I think people end up on I-5 in Seattle on the morning commute. Because if you get up in the morning and say I want to make my life more beautiful, almost certainly your next move is not say I want to commute on I-5 through Seattle at 8:15. Because I hear it on the radio and they never say “What a lovely commute this morning!. The birds were singing the flowers were blooming in the overpass, the scent of jasmine in the air!. In fact, people were stopping and lounging on the highway because it was so wonderful.” I have yet to hear that.

But people will say, well, it has to be that way. Uh, no. No, it does not HAVE to be that way. It certainly is that way in places and people certainly do choose to live that way. And the problem with beauty and wisdom is that you cannot absolutely say that they are wrong. You can say they were wrong for you. You can say, that might work for you, but I would find this unpleasant, unbeautiful. It works against my sense of what is wise about the world. But I cannot say that you should not do it absolutely.

We know how big I-5 is, we know how many cars it can carry. We know the traffic, we know how long the commute is. But, is it beautiful? Is it wise to do that every morning?

Why do we do the things we do? Why do we make them the way we do? Why do we have the experiences that we have?

I think a lot of the negatives come about from the viewpoint I had this morning. What’s the deadline? How fast can we do it? How much will it cost? All the measurable things LEAP to the surface.

Will this be joyful? Will this be lovely? Will it make me grow and expand and thrive and increase my health? Will it make me wiser? Will it make me a better person in some way? If we asked those questions all the time, think of how differently we would experience the world around us.

posted in: Thinking Book Passages

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