Singularly moved

Not beloved by many, but lovely nonetheless.
Photo by Steve Halama via Unsplash

I, singularly moved
To love the lovely that are not beloved,
Of all the seasons most
Love winter.

Coventry Patmore

If you read the comments section, you may recall that I mentioned this verse to Marlene when she said she loved winter. This is the post I told her I would write for her.

I can’t say I most love winter, but I do enjoy many aspects of it. However, the line of Patmore’s verse that captured my imagination was “the lovely that are not beloved.” There are all sorts of things that can fit that category, winter among them, and I wonder what else he might have had in mind when he described himself as having an affinity for what is disregarded by others.

Have you ever found yourself protesting, “Oh, but I love _____” (fill in something everyone else is criticizing). In that category, I think first of certain animals– crickets, or lizards, or mice, or squirrels– creatures others might see as pests, but ones I see as more cute than irritating.  Or it could be dandelions, or radishes, or other plants nobody seems to appreciate. Maybe you actually like to eat liver or zucchini.  You might like a book or movie others found boring. Maybe you secretly appreciated a school teacher that everyone else hated, or thought that oddball classmate was interesting because he was different. Did you feel strange because you liked something others denigrated? Or were you happy that you found joy where others could not?

I think if we keep an eye out for beauty with the awareness that it may be hidden, we will find it in unlikely places. And we might discover that others share our enjoyment of something most people miss completely.  Do you have any tips for us about where you’ve found examples of “the lovely that are not beloved?”

Ray Stevens is known mostly for his funny songs, but if you’re old enough, you might remember his 1970 Grammy-winning song that wasn’t joking when it declared “everything is beautiful in its own way.” Despite the arguments against this philosophy, if you’re feeling irritable enough to make Grumpy Cat look like an optimist, zoom back to the groovy year of 1970 and enjoy a much-younger Ray Stevens singing his song. I bet it will make you smile.

 

32 Comments

  1. In high school I had a science teacher that everyone feared. He was always cross when you didn’t know an answer and it meant you had to come in for detention. Any funny stories we had about him were at his expense. Years later I met one of his nieces at a shower and she adored her uncle. When she asked me to share some stories about him I felt terrible because I didn’t have many if any good memories of him. She was heartbroken. It was then that I realized that everyone probably has someone who loves them and that I should have made more of an effort to find something good about him. The only thing that stuck out for me was that he was an entirely different person on a field trip. This is where his passion for his subject really came out.

    • Thanks for sharing this comment– I think many of us may have similar teachers in our memories. Yes, so often we see only one side of a person. I’m reminded of the filmmaker whose name escapes me, who said (of his bio on John Lennon) “to know anyone is to love them.” That might be a bit of an overstatement, but almost everyone has a good side, even if few people see it. Perhaps your teacher’s passion for his subject that drove him into teaching also made him cross when he sensed he was failing to transmit that passion to his students, and maybe on field trips, he felt free of the constraints of the classroom that too often turn learning into something boring and threatening. Who I feel most sorry for in this story is his niece. It’s hard to see and appreciate a person whom everyone else dislikes or disregards. Thanks a lot for sharing this story with us; I’m sure everyone who reads it will find it thought-provoking.

  2. MaryAnn Clontz

    A memory that comes to mind may not fit the category. Our youngest grandson, Aaric, & I went walking almost everyday when he was about 2; he loves exploring! He was familiar with letters, so he asked, “What does that spell?” often. Each time we saw a metal covering, he wanted to know. So we “read” water, sewer, foundry, etc. many times. His curiosity made for an adventure each time!

    • Mary Ann, I like this story and I think it fits perfectly, since most of us would say a sewer cover was ugly– if we noticed it at all! Aaric sounds a bit like Matt as a toddler. Long before Matt was diagnosed with autism, we noticed how strange it was that anytime he saw a toy, the first thing he would do is turn it over and announce where it was made. Sometimes I had to look very, very closely to see that yes, there was a tiny, unpainted but slightly raised imprint that said “China” or “Germany” or whatever. It sounds like Aaric somehow realized the magical nature of little symbols (letters) that represented something concrete and specific. Smart kid! And I bet you saw things differently whenever you were with him. That’s a wonderful gift children give us. ❤

      • MaryAnn Clontz

        That is the joy of “seeing the world through the eyes of a child!” I love that story about “my” Matt!

        • Thank you. 🙂

  3. I did zoom back to 1970 and thought his outfit was a riot! The puffy sleeved peach shirt, vest suit and jaunty scarf ! Man those styles were pretty liberated weren’t they. Did Jeff ever have these outfits? That might be my ‘love of the not loved’ . I’m often drawn to wacky fashion. Not necessarily trendy clothes but a mix of stuff from different era’s that no one else wants. Maybe you could call it eclectic, if that’s a style. I bought a knee length nighty off a sale rack a couple of years ago because it was aqua and red and I thought it’d be perfect with a pair of red shoes I also own. It had pretty red lace on the neck and hem. I wear it with a vintage aqua bracelet, aqua tights and a white t-shirt. To my surprise, I get all kinds of nice comments, but they don’t know it’s actually a discounted pyjama. It’s not for every taste of course. Someone more conservative might think the circus was in town, LOL ! Beauty is definitely in the eyes of the beholder. xo K

    • Yes, I thought you might have fun with that retro look. My first impulse is to say that Jeff would have gone naked before he would wear something like that, but I do have photos that show him in a relatively groovy phase where he looked far different than he would ever have wanted to look even five years later. I’ll try to post some of them here later if I get a chance. I think eclectic is definitely a style, in both clothing and decor. And being the type who tends to like a lot of different things, if I was ever to be “put together” enough to have any sort of actual style, I think it would be eclectic. I love your creativity and eye for “wacky” things, putting them together interesting combinations that work very well. Maybe you can give me lessons next time you come, and help me put together a “Boom Room” of my own! I think quite a few beholders are drawn to your unique and unmistakable beauty. ❤

      • ❤ ❤ (( Julia ))
        We should all look in the mirror and say, "I'm beautiful". But omgosh, that is not easy, is it? So many things, unimportant things. Things I would never judge others on, but I do myself. Beauty to me is: a grown man playing with the dog on the floor, a senior couple holding hands on a walk, babies sleeping contently, a blue sky and so many other "moments". If a house had no mirrors, I'd be ok with that. But thank you for your generous message. Oh, and I've seen you 'put together' girly and your gorgeous.
        I will come wack-a-fy your "cool Jule" room anytime you're ready (see what I did there? 😀 ) Love K

        • K, that reminds me of the time not so long ago (which I mentioned somewhere in the comments) that I was in a dressing room trying on clothes and I noticed that some one had taped a note to the mirror: “You are beautiful…DON’T HATE WHAT YOU SEE!” I felt so happy to see it there and I hope it stayed on that mirror for a long time so that many others can see it too. In fact, I think it would be great if clothing stores could put happy quotes at the top of all their dressing room mirrors. WOW, have you really seen me put together? When? I thought I was busy talking the entire time you were here (both weeks) so I can’t imagine when I would have had time to put anything together. Besides, I hardly ever manage that “put together” look any more. Like maybe once or twice a year, but less than that lately. I started out semi-put-together at Jeff’s funeral but by the time the snow and wind got hold of my hair, it was a disaster. Luckily the funeral was lovely and nobody cared how I looked, not even me. But I definitely intend to take you up on your offer to help me learn how to be WACKY without being TACKY!! 😀

          • LOL! Wacky without being Tacky!! That’s the funniest thing ever….It should be a trendy designer label. You crack me up 😀

            Hey!! The day we went to the falls…you wore a gorgeous blue dress and tiny jean jacket!! I have proof! With that slender figure of yours (that I will never achieve), you can wear whatever you want and always look gorgeous!
            I love that someone tacked a message on the mirror in that store! Younger girls are far more confident now I think. Do you think so? xo Lets adopt that! Let’s try to be cool with what we see in the mirror 😀 ❤ xo K

            • K, I try to be cool with what I see in the mirror, but lately it’s getting harder. So my solution is just to mostly avoid mirrors 🙂 and keep reminding myself that nobody really cares what I look like anyway, as long as I’m not so over-the-top repulsive that it scares people. I do agree with you that younger girls are far more confident than they used to be. Interestingly, I can see no real relation between confidence and looks (or any other obvious asset) in most of the younger women I meet. Some of the ones with the most attitude are the least “attractive,” at least by traditional standards. This is mostly a good thing, but sometimes I think that we went from “I am worthwhile because I am beautiful” to “I am worthwhile for no good reason so outta my way, loser” when we should have somehow stopped at “I am worthwhile and so are you, and so is everybody!” If that makes sense. Let’s just say that almost everybody I know could learn a lot about how to be a genuinely nice person by following you around all day sometime. ❤

              • You make total sense. There is a thin line between confidence and attitude and no one looks good wearing attitude, no matter how attractive you are. xo

                • That’s something I need to remember on the 95% of days when I go out looking like someone who overslept and didn’t have time to get ready. A big smile and a friendly spirit are beautiful even on the worst bad hair day!

    • I love it!
      Thank you for allowing your YOU to be seen!

      • Thank you Suzy! Do you enjoy vintage shops and discounted PJ’s too? 😀

        • I can’t wait to see her reply, but I have to add here that, while I like to think of myself as having a Bohemian streak, Susan is the real thing…as in “genuine Bohemian ancestry” not just a wannabe. She wears it well!

  4. I can only image how the Apostles’ experience would attest to: “the lovely that was not beloved?”
    -Alan

    • Alan, how true. Since Matt’s childhood, Isaiah 53 became a deeply significant and wonderful passage for me. I felt that I understood for the first time the phrase “as one from whom people hide their faces…” Jesus tends to be romanticized in films as a handsome guy, but the Bible tells us that “he had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” Yet we can only aspire to such beauty, knowing that we can never (on this earth) attain it fully. Worth pondering indeed.

  5. I loved everything about this post from the picture in the beginning to that nostalgic piece of music at the end. I always felt like an odd duck not following the norm but we can’t all drift the same way or the planet would tilt. 🙂 I love fried okra and most people in my part of the country can’t stand it. I’m not a fan of Mexican food and EVERYONE here loves it. I like the idea that we can have all those different kinds of foods and weather but if we all felt the same way about it, we’d all be crowed into one tiny restaurant or corner of the world. Someone has to love winter. Some people even love bugs and study them. Special thanks for the music. I’m going to add it to my list of happy tunes. Forgot how much I loved the song. The 70’s can keep the outfit. 🙂 Hugs.

    • Marlene, since you inspired this post, I’m very happy you like it! Wow, if you love fried okra, that might be the first thing I can think of that I don’t have in common with you, and two would be: I totally LOVE Mexican food, my favorite since early childhood and the one “international” food that I grew up eating– though a frozen, mass-produced version of the real thing in most cases. Speaking of those who love bugs, an esteemed friend of mine from my brief time in the Tennessee Division of Forestery (1979-1980) was the state endymologist, and I used to find his displays of all sorts of bugs totally fascinating. We have stayed in touch all these years via Christmas cards. I’m so happy you have added that wonderful song to your current playlist! Though Ray Stevens probably did not realize it, the outfit he wore that day became the ultimate example of the song’s philosophy that “everything is beautiful in its own way.” 😀 As in, beautiful in the context of looking back at the 70’s and thinking “WHAT were we THINKING back then?!!!” 😀

      • Though Ray Stevens probably did not realize it, the outfit he wore that day became the ultimate example of the song’s philosophy that “everything is beautiful in its own way.” 😀 This made me laugh out loud!!!! I will eat Mexican food if I have to and am learning to find the things that work on my palate. I had never had any until my late 30’s and so needed to learn how to choose what I would like. It was quite foreign to me. My aunt Lucille made fried okra when I lived with her and done just crispy enough with enough salt that I found it palatable. I do not seek it out when dining nor do I prepare it in my home. If it was sitting on my plate, I would probably eat it. My dining experiences for most of my life were very limited. My daughter has been expanding my tastes extensively. It’s been fun to try new things. 🙂 Have a great weekend. Hugs.

        • Marlene, do you like polenta? If so, you might enjoy some good tamales (I only eat the cheese ones but most are made with pork or chicken). I am totally crazy about anything related to corn. Tortilla chips, cornbread, grits (same thing as polenta as far as I can tell) and even candy corn. 🙂 My dining habits are limited, but only by my own choice for either taste or health reasons. I’m happy with simple things and don’t mind eating the same thing again and again if it’s something I really like. If I had a daughter to get me to try new things, I might be more adventurous. Jeff was always a much more adventurous eater than I am, but once he tried something new he tended to go back to the old favorites. It’s hard to beat good, old-fashioned comfort food. Hope you have a restful Sunday tomorrow and a great week ahead. ❤

          • No Polenta for me. I’m the opposite of you here. No corn of any kind. I guess when I found out that you almost can not get any that is not genetically modified, I lost interest. My diet is so restrictive right now as I try to regain some semblance of health that if it tastes good, I probably can’t have it. 😦 Sunday is very restful here. The week full. 🙂 Giant hugs to you.

            • Yes, I think almost all corn– and seemingly almost all vegetables and fruits generally– are GMO. Corn products are my major food group, so I hope they turn out to be not as bad for people as they sometimes sound. Bravo to you for being willing to modify your diet. I hope you are able to gradually add back in some healthy favorites. When I’m trying to avoid craving nutritionally bankrupt foods, I try to focus on the relatively healthy foods that I really love, such as grapefruit, Greek yogurt, nuts etc. Years ago when my cardiologist prescribed heart medication for me, I asked him if I could hold off on the meds and make lifestyle changes (better diet, exercise, decreased stress) instead. He was very supportive, stating that, if I was willing to really make changes, it would be better than meds. BUT he warned that most people aren’t willing to do that consistently, and also that as I age, I might not be able to control my tachycardia without meds. So far so good, though. But I have the meds there if I need them. Restful Sundays and full weeks are a great way to live, I think. Sending warm hugs!

  6. Harry Sims

    ************
    And the second is like unto it;
    love thy neighbor as thyself.

    • Yes! And here’s a verse I have to say to myself over and over: “For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (I John 4:20)

      • Harry Sims

        Everything Is Beautiful
        In it’s own way!

  7. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. ☕️ I loved the 60’s and 70’s and really love the music from those days. Of course, those times were before technology and I even love that! I’ve said to Bill,and others from that era, that we grew up in “the best of times”. I love SIMPLE! 💛 I’m with you, loving Mexican food so much. But then I love fried okra, chicken livers, and butter beans, as well.🤫 I’ve been so busy being a “Mimi” this week, that involved lots of cooking. I cooked for both Ashley and Stephanie, knowing it would help their busy schedules. I didn’t want to leave Bill out, so I fix fried chicken for him last night. I hadn’t done that in years! I must mention that the grand finale was my homemade chocolate pie (with meringue). I may not cook all weekend. “This kitchen is closed due to illness…. I’m sick of cooking” 😂 Love to you and Matt! ❤️

    • Sheila, I feel the same way about “our” era. Probably everybody who spends much time around me gets sick of hearing me say “I’m glad I lived when I did.” It was a golden age for so many things. Yet I do realize that so many people (including my beloved Matt) would not have fared well in those days, and far too many people did not. SO, I suppose some things are getting better, but I wish we could somehow hang on to the good things about the past even as we grow out of the bad things. BTW I’ll take those butter beans but you can have the okra and liver! How wonderful that your family is close by and that you cook for them! But after all that you definitely deserved a break! (And Raynard might add “and no I don’t mean McDonald’s…”) Hey, that looks like echinacea growing out by the February verandah…maybe we should brew up some tea from it, to keep the flu away!! Hope your Sunday is restfully wonderful and your week is busy and happy.

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