November 29, 2022

Sibling partners: "I don't know" and Beauty

By Therese Conway
Kids looking out the window

The Truth

I've been thinking a lot lately about "the truth" and how I feel it receding, being pulled out to sea by some powerful ebb tide. The big questions have always been beyond the reach of "truth," but these days, all manner of daily encounters demonstrate the fact that I can't put my finger on "the truth!" Maddening. I don't think I am alone with this experience.

No longer able to feel the solid ground I thought "the truth" gave me, my answer to the question, "How do I recognize the truth in this?" has been: "I don't know!"

That is the wisest answer I can offer. I have been living in the land of "I don't know" for some time now. It's a little unnerving, and I have not been getting a lot of traction in my endeavours. Nevertheless, it feels better than joining in the fray of "what's the truth here?"

Yesterday afternoon I was watching an ongoing series of . (If you like listening to interesting ideas, I highly recommend this series). I think they were talking about truth.

At the very end, a participant named about truth and beauty. "What about this notion that truth reveals herself through beauty," Michael asked? I felt a door open wide, revealing "I don't know's" long lost sibling--beauty.

All of a sudden I felt in my body a solidity I feel when I experience something of beauty. It felt incredibly similar to the solidity I thought I felt with "the truth."

Coherence—present in both. Things fit together. To me, that is what truth and beauty have in common, a sense of coherence, of things just fitting together. It may not make sense to me intellectually, but my whole brain, my nature brain, senses the wholeness in it.

Strong intellectual "truths" have felt jarring and off to me lately. They seem to ring an emotional bell that feels reactive and disjointed. Hard to describe, but maybe you have had a similar experience. Maybe the intelligence of Beauty has been trying to tell me that it is the missing ingredient I've been looking for.

We see beauty with our whole selves. It feels right to us because the intelligence of our bodies — the intelligence that is connected to the natural intelligence inside and all around us— recognizes its truth.

Critics will pull apart the elements of art for interpretation, but when we see beauty—in art, literature, nature, or ideas—we see it with all our senses. Maybe attending to beauty will bring along our sense of truth. Maybe attending to beauty will help us recover the life-enhancing properties of our imaginative faculties.

Wise people have suggested it for a long time:

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
     -John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.
     -R. Buckminster Fuller

You were born into Beauty as Beauty for Joyful Life. That’s the truth.
Let’s see what love comes to meet us in our hour of not-knowing.
     -Pat McCabe, Diné elder

If this rings true for you, why don't you join me in a week of orienting your attention to beauty instead of knowledge. I'd be curious to hear from you about your experience.

Click below to ask the cards:


Attention to beauty. It's an essential component of natural intelligence.

Here is a piece of music that offered me coherence and connection on the night my sister Beth died. I listen to it often, with awe and gratitude for my sister, for Music, and for Beauty.

Lots of love to you,


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