What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?

It’s subjective, beauty is. That’s what the cliche statement “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder ” proclaims. It can’t be objectified; it can’t be reduced to a single object or person or idea or place—beauty isn’t an omnipresent idea or viewpoint. 

Beauty is diverse, brilliantly diverse. 

When I asked a group of people what the most beautiful thing they’ve ever seen was, the answers were vividly contrasting. 

That in itself was beautiful. 

Senior Susan Toppen’s beauty is gold—a gleaming glow from the glass in her church. 

“There is a stain glass window in my church, and there is this brownish-gold color that when the light hits it just right, it illuminates the church in a golden glow. It makes me feel full of hope and reminds me that no matter how hard life gets, it will somehow get better.” 

Something as simple as a shard of illuminated glass sparked happiness and hope for Susan, and the simple complexity of her answer was beautiful. 

Senior Meredith VanSkiver’s beauty is cream-colored pages: “the copy of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief at the library when I was nine years old. “

Junior Taylor Baumgardner recounted a hike in Wyoming with her father; what struck a chord with her was not the view, but the smile they exchanged. A moment—the ineffable instant of wrinkled eyes, scrunched noses, and uplifted cheeks. Taylor found beauty in a gloriously content moment, and I found beauty in that.

Junior Julia Beaumont saw beauty in the coast of Italy with its “glistening teal waters,” and the “peep of pure orange sunlight shining through [her] window.” 

And the most beautiful thing senior Olivia Luplow has ever seen was “watching the world wake up from the shore in a sleeping bag.” 

Five drastically different answers, five different humans, five different pairs of eyes viewing their own individual world. 

What really struck me was Taylor’s answer. Amongst the sixteen answers I received, Taylor’s was one of the only answers that described a moment. Not a skyline, not a sunset, but a smile. 

Maybe beauty doesn’t have to be a tangible thing. Sunsets are pretty, sure. So are skylines. But moments can be pretty, too. 

Beauty is diverse, brilliantly diverse.

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What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?