March 2011
Drawn by Beauty

A potential for beauty draws the bonsai caretaker to a particular plant, stirring something inside her. Then through the patient application of her disciplined craft, the caretaker — in cooperation with the plant, the sun, and the soil — transforms the plant into a beautiful creation.

Would you believe the same dynamic is operative with you and your work? That ideally your work draws you to it, and through the application of your attention and skill, you too transform the world and leave it more beautiful? Let’s see how.

First, let’s look at beauty. Beauty is an experience that draws us in, mysteriously lifts us, then returns us to a different place inside ourselves. Beauty literally “moves” us, leaving us afterward to see and experience the world differently. In this vulnerable movement we are somehow transformed.

Ideally our work draws us to it; we are not driven by it. The feel is different: it’s the pull, not the push. In this way our work expresses our innate vocation. Vocation derives from the Latin root for “to call” (vocare). Writer Parker Palmer’s poetic definition reveals the very root of vocation: “where your gift meets the world’s hunger.”

A certain beauty mysteriously emerges from the artful pairing of your gift and the world’s hunger. The closer the alignment, the fuller beauty your work provides. You are transformed, and the world is too. Work then becomes a place where you offer something to the world, not where you take something from it.