Edwin Catmull, the president of Pixar Animated Studios, once said, “Art isn’t about drawing; it’s about learning to see.”
I think this is so so beautiful.
In a philosophy class I was in, we took time to discuss the topic of beauty. We tried to answer the question, how do we know when we’ve experienced true beauty?
Some of the theories we learned about, were not what I would have thought, but they make so much sense.
First, you may experience anxiety. This emotion kicks in as you stand before something absolutely stunning but others don’t seem to grasp what you see. Frustration grows as you struggle to explain to others what you are feeling.
Then there’s secrecy. This is when you’ve come face to face with so much beauty, that you can’t waste it on anything except your own eyes. It’s experiencing a beautiful sunrise and wanting to keep it to yourself because you feel like it belongs to you. It’s climbing a mountain with no one else so that you can enjoy the view as if it were God whispering a message to you alone.
I feel like this is how artists must live their lives...it must be a constant struggle to teach people to look at the world differently.
I find artists fascinating. There is so much to learn from them.
I am currently taking a class where I get the privilege of learning from an artist. He speaks as if everything has beauty and listens as if there is meaning behind every story or word.
He said this to our class, “God...the creator of the universe is visually communicating to us all around...He is constantly trying to tell you something.”
I’ve been thinking about that statement ever since. The next day, I think I walked around with eyes open wider than they had been in a while.
I felt like a little kid at Disney World, amazed at every little thing. I felt like I was looking for something...constantly trying to listen for God’s voice with my eyes.
What did I find?
Nothing extremely profound, honestly. I know...huge let down.
But I did learn something extremely valuable.
I looked around, and I found that there is much more to see than I think...even stupid little stuff!
For example, did you know that the word “OK” looks like a little stick figure man if you stand it up? I can’t unsee that one now…
Did you also know that everyone smiles differently? Or that pure white snow up against deep green grass looks stunning together?
Or have you ever noticed just how small things can get before they seem to vanish?
There is so much that I didn’t know I always look at!
This week I read the story of Zacchaeus (yes, the wee little man…) and with these new ideas of beauty in my mind, I read the story of how this short man climbed into a tree.
I imagine he’d walked those same streets of Jericho before, maybe even climbed the same tree. He probably had heard stories of this incredible, miraculous man, named Jesus...
Desperately, Zacchaeus climbed up the tree so that he could catch even the slightest glimpse of the new king, come to save us all.
It is incredible. This little man, had seen what this world considers beauty. He knew what money looked like - he knew it well actually. He knew the seemingly beautiful sights that wealth could provide.
Yet these pictures that Zacchaeus had painted for himself, did not invoke the emotions of secrecy, or anxious passion that true beauty inspires.
It probably left him empty.
This was the desperation with which Zacchaeus must have climbed the tree. His eyes were beginning to open...just starting their new search for true beauty.
I think it’s so beautiful that this is what Jesus did: He brought true beauty to Zacchaeus’ life. As soon as Zacchaeus saw him from the top of that fig tree...something must have clicked.
All of a sudden, no beauty was greater than the man that stood before him. So great was His beauty, that in that exact moment, Zacchaeus forgot about how much he had loved the sight of gold...in that moment, true beauty won the heart of this little man. All because he learned to look at the right things.
I think this was probably the day that Zacchaeus gained a better perspective, and truly began to see. He had lunch with the savior of the world that day.
And yet no one understood why Jesus would do this.
But that’s what I think getting to know Jesus is like. It’s frustration that certain things cannot be explained; it’s an understanding that not everyone will understand; it’s so wonderfully personal, that you either want to keep it quietly to yourself or yell at the top of your lungs...it’s a whirlwind of beauty spinning all around and makes you so dizzy that you don’t want it to stop.
It’s the purest form of art...it is learning to see.