There is a vine on the fence next to our house, and at the end of August I always start watching for its leaves to start turning colors. They are a beautiful, vibrant red, and they are the first signs of fall in our yard. I feel a thrill when I see those first leaves turning, and I think about crisp air, bright fall colors, delicious soups, and apple dumplings that make fall a wonderful time.
After lots of leaves have fallen, I sometimes purposely walk where a large pile of leaves has gathered just so I can walk through them and scatter them just like I did when I was a child. There is something enchanting about fall colors and cool air. Whenever I witness these fall scenes, I think of Keats’s phrase “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need know.”
I don’t mean to go into a philosophical discussion about this line of poetry—one of the most analyzed lines in all of literature—but it’s thrilling to think that there is truth in beautiful things and ideas. Particularly, the thought that there is truth in the natural beauties around us appeals to me. I feel like God is in His creations, and He is ultimate Truth. And as we spend time in His creations, we can feel His influence.
Beauty isn’t limited to our sense of sight. I’m not sure any sound is more beautiful than Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto, and the feel of a cashmere sweater and the delicate smoothness of bread dough are beauties to me.
Sometimes our senses combine to create beauty. When I read a well-written piece of literature (such as the poem by Keats that is the source of the line quoted earlier), it enlightens my mind, and the sound of the words strung together and the view of the words and paragraphs on the page are beautiful to me.
Keats doesn’t stop with declaring that beauty is truth. He states the converse as well: that truth itself is beauty. When people are honest and genuine in their speech and actions, there is beauty. When we learn something that instinctively feels true, it’s a beautiful experience. The pursuit of truth is a beautiful and worthy pursuit.
Luckily, we can pursue truth in everything and everyone we encounter. These truths may be as simple as knowing that a smile often spreads happiness to those around you. But truths can be found in other areas as well. They may be found in a solution to a problem at work or in learning a new effective way to teach a child. Perhaps one of the reasons we find children so easy to love is because of their eagerness to learn new things, which is a beautiful scene to witness.
We can find truth for free in the many volumes at our public library, and if we want to work more intensely for certain truths, we can participate in free online classes such as those taught through Kahn Academy (subjects for kindergarten through grade 12) or through EdX.org, which partners with many universities to provide free online courses. Let’s not forget the wonderful resource right in our backyard: Casper College offers continuing education classes as well as the option of auditing classes or taking classes for credit.
Wherever your path takes you, remember to look for the beauty and the truth around you; focusing on beauty and truth allows us to feel joy, and we all could use more joy in our lives.