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Beauty breaks the laws of the universe
You can create something from nothing.
For the sake of my argument, take something a lot of people consider beautiful: the 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO, the world’s most expensive car.
You could buy it for $70 million today.
Then, you could smash it into a wall.
Suddenly, it’s a pile of plastic and metal worth less than $10,000. What just happened?
It’s all the same materials, roughly in the same position in space. It just happens to be a lot less pleasing now. Less useful, sure, but mostly a lot less beautiful.
Beauty is a temporary reversal of a universal constant: entropy. There is entropy everywhere; in your relationships, in the cracks on the sidewalks, in your aging cells, and even in our collective imagination.
A creative’s job is sort of magical (if you don’t mind). They reverse the relentless march of entropy in the universe (if only locally) to make order out of chaos.
The difference between humans and rats
In the movie Soylent Green (1973), the Earth in the future has run out of resources. Now, we have to eat patties of ground-up people (spoiler alert). The fabled year of that fate for humanity? 2022.
Last I checked, we are not eating people in 2022—in fact, since 1970, we have doubled the economy. Twice.
A long list of famous people and institutions predicted the world's end over and over the last two centuries. Why are they always wrong?
Because they model humanity after bacteria and rats. Those creatures tend to consume all the resources and multiply quickly until they run out and suddenly collapse due to starvation. Humans, so far, don’t do that. Why?
Because humans can create beauty.
Beauty creates Superabundance.
When I was a kid, my dad and I used to flip houses.
When I would go to a hardware store, I was overwhelmed by the thousands of little tools on the shelves. For each of them, someone ran into a problem while making something, spent an enormous amount of time and energy to create the right tool, patented it, and sold it to a manufacturer. Now, you can solve the problem easily.
My dad and I found out that if you’re having trouble building something, you just didn’t find the right tools—because, believe me, they’re out there.
You may not see these tools as beautiful, but if you had a problem and realized someone solved it for you, you’d think it was beautiful.
Let’s not get confused here: beauty is difficult to understand, but you know it when you see it. Mathematicians often refer to equations as “beautiful.”
Beauty is a lever out of entropy. The bigger the lever and the more relevant it is to your problems, the more exciting the beauty.
Practical tools create order in material things, and beautiful art creates order in our minds.
Creating beauty presents endless opportunities and endless potential to grow.
What if, if we could, just as an experiment, forget about our egos, insecurities, and our fears about money? What if we could just do that for a week? A day?
Instead, we just focused on making the things around us beautiful.
Make the relationships with your family beautiful, make your room beautiful, make whatever work you are doing (even if you think it’s pointless) beautiful—focus only on what humans alone do: bring order to chaos in your local world.
I’m not being cute—I actually want to know what you think would happen.
Because I suspect that if I could pull this off at 100%, my life would change so dramatically I wouldn’t recognize it.
There are endless opportunities to improve our lives at our feet—we just sometimes think we’re above it.
“The reason modern people can't see God is that they won't look low enough." — Carl Jung
I struggle with this so badly. I want my life to be meaningful, so I sometimes think I shouldn’t be doing mundane things. But, nothing honestly done to create more beauty for others is mundane.
I’ve seen people (people I’m jealous of) rise to high places because they show themselves as creators of beauty—not ego-driven. For example, they pick up trash on hikes and chat with homeless people. People trust people like that. They don’t mind following people like that.
And, there is no limit to the value of the beauty you could create.
If I gave you a canvas and some paint, what is the economic value you could create (from what originally cost, like, 50 bucks)? Some paintings are worth half a billion dollars, and people fly halfway around the world just to look at them.
But let’s not limit ourselves to a painting—because you have tools to your fingertips to write, make videos, and make art—for what might as well be free. And, you can instantly share it with the billions of other minds on the planet. Insane.
What limits people is not their talent or their luck—it’s their aims. Great people are obsessed with creating beauty and leveraging order out of chaos wherever they can for whoever needs help.
A harsh truth: we can’t create superabundance in our life because we’re thinking about ourselves too much.
Even here, now, there is endless potential. If I get these words in the exact right order, they could bring better order (beauty) to the minds of thousands—even potentially millions of people. If I fail, well, I can try again next week. And I do.
That’s what drives me to write these words every week and always to try to improve. I want to bring beauty out of the chaos of my mind and spread that beauty to the minds of others.
To do that, I first have to be willing to look at the chaos of my mind (that’s an article for another day).
Until then, keep making beautiful things. It matters.
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Talk to you next week,
Here’s what I’m reading:
Everything is so much better than we are led to believe. And, people get furious when you suggest this. Why? It’s not to say things couldn’t be better—but 2022 is the best time to be a human being so far by so much it’s unbelievable. The cause? Our capacity to create beauty. Read it.
Still working my way through this 1,000 pager. Insanely deep insights in every phrase. How long can you bear to pay attention to something so bright?
Quotes I’m pondering:
“By the experience of active love. Strive to love your neighbour actively and indefatigably. In as far as you advance in love you will grow surer of the reality of God and of the immortality of your soul. If you attain to perfect self-forgetfulness in the love of your neighbour, then you will believe without doubt, and no doubt can possibly enter your soul. This has been tried. This is certain.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” — Carl Jung
“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson