Random acts of beauty

Most have heard of the concept of random acts of kindness. It is a popular one. But, Oliver Burkeman in his book Help! (which I am really enjoying at the moment) reflects that random acts of kindness can often freak strangers out – our immediate response is suspicion and confusion, rather than gratitude! So I am not suggesting that here, rather a variation on that theme.

Our world can feel a little grey sometimes. A little too man-made. Our environment despoiled. We don’t have time to be creative. We do not have big artistic ideas. We feel stuck.

But all around us are pockets of beauty, glory in miniature where nature flourishes. Wherever we live. We all have favourite place to walk, to re-energise, to get inspired: the beach, the woods, the moors, the river bank.

Random acts of beauty aim to take these places and enhance them through our own small acts of creativity.

Our spiral on the strand!

Think natural graffiti. Guerrilla art. Making your mark in your local surroundings. Leaving little works of art behind you that others on their morning walk will happen across. Unexpected beauty and creativity. Little creations to lift the heart and spirits. To make people stop and wonder for a moment.

Inspired by our women’s circle meeting on the beach last weekend, and the wonderful book Knitting for Good that I have been reading to review, I am excited about committing random acts of beauty, or, what Fiona Danks in the truly glorious Make it Wild! describes as ephemeral art.

I am enjoying writing messages on the beach at the moment – messages with multiple meanings, messages to amuse, encourage and arouse curiosity, to pique the awareness and grab people out of their day dreams and into awareness of and engagement with their natural surroundings and the here and now.

Borrowed!

And in the act of creation we enter a dialogue with our surroundings. We take them in through all of our senses, appreciating the tiny details that we would  normally have missed. It is an act of mindfulness. We inhale the shapes and textures through our fingers and eyes. We become co-creators.

A by-product of this is that we become more deeply enmeshed with our environment. We value it more on every level. It becomes a part of us.

Borrowed!

And in the act of creating we also engage with the wider community, our “audience”, who will interact with our works of art. In choosing to create, we share freely with those who also love this place, who come here with their worries, their anger, their need to clear their head, to spend time with those they love. And you are entering anonymously into communion with them. And will never know what effect you had on them.

Are you excited yet? I am…it presses all my buttons: connection, creativity, community, nature, mindful awareness…what’s not to like?

I encourage you to join the experiment. Ideas include… sand sculptures, labyrinths, stone spirals, decorative piles of stones, sand paintings, woven grasses, shell mosaics, messages hanging from tree branches, natural mobiles, leaf sculptures, messages in the mud, a mandala of leaves and petals, fairy houses in the woods, ice sculptures, leaf poems, snow figurines… get your hands of a copy of Make it Wild! for real photographic inspiration.

Borrowed!

The only rules are that you are not damaging anything, man made or growing, and that what you create is not dangerous, disruptive or long-lasting – remember, it is ephemeral art – it is there, and then it is gone. It must be respectful of its surroundings, and preferably use materials from the same ecological niche. And leave the environment even cleaner than when you got there – do a little litter clear up whilst you’re there.

Snow heart I drew on the back windscreen of our car.

Enjoy…entertain…inspire…celebrate your creativity and the natural environment.

For more on this do read my other posts which develop this idea:
Finding Form: A meditative guide to creating random acts of beauty
And see some of our creations: if you go down to the woods today…
And Labyrinths of Sand

I invite you to join me in creating random acts of beauty. Please share your photos and experiences with us all…

A version of this post appeared in the summer 2011 version of Rhythm of the Home
  1. laangel
    laangel03-10-2011

    this sounds like a great idea for the weekend :-) We’ll see what we can come up with x

  2. TwigandToadstool
    TwigandToadstool03-10-2011

    I’m with you here…I remember one day we went for a walk down the rail trail down the hill, and someone had drawn all of these happy faces in the dirt, and messages like “be happy”…it just made our day. Another time on vacation we came across all of these mermaids someone had made on the beach by the ocean…my daughter, (who was 4 at the time), was just mesmerized…
    seeing these little random acts of beauty can just lift your spirits! Thank you for sharing this with us!
    xo maureen

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