Beautiful and surprising

Winning and losing doesn’t matter. It’s about making something beautiful and surprising.

So says the character, Kimi Muroyama, in the Australian film, Paper Planes, which I have watched a couple of times with my younger daughter, Esther. The film is about an international competition to see who can make a paper plane fly the furthest. It is also about loss, letting go, and finding new life.

Life is not a competition, not about being the best, but something beautiful and surprising.

You can measure your path by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or your failures. (Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic, p.41)

The point, for me, is that each of us is capable of making something beautiful, maybe many beautiful things. But we don’t have to make things. Living is beautiful, of itself, without produce, product, or production. When we are made to compete, one idea of the beautiful is held up to be the ideal and we all try to be the best at that. But this is no way to live. If no one competed, but each tried their best to bring forth, to allow to come to birth the surprise that each beautiful life is, what a rich world we would live in.

The trouble with competition is that someone, somewhere, decides arbitrarily that something is good enough to test people on. This is fine as far as it goes, inasmuch as it stimulates some people to excel. But the downside is that is exalts certain traits and abilities as more worthy than others, and it turns people, from a very young age, into winners and losers. Education, education, education sounds like a good idea, but it becomes an agent of oppression when it is a method of social control to torture young minds into a narrow economic paradigm. As Jesus might have said, “Education is made for the human, not the human for education.”

In these little pieces I lob out from time to time, I seem to be saying the same thing over and over. God, the Universe, the Source – whatever word you want to use for what can be loved but not named – has no need for us to do anything. We make “something beautiful and surprising” by nothing more than being alive as the unique beings that we are. We do not need to strive at this; quite the reverse. To breathe with amazement at the fact of breath is to make something beautiful and surprising.

What is “beautiful and surprising” to you?