Everything in our life should be beautiful

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My granny always said that a woman should dress pretty and a man should dress warm. I think that many people can be divided into such female and male types.

Looking on the Warsaw balconies or pictures from various flats included in our studies, I can say with quite a big dose of certainty that A GREAT DEAL OF people belongs to the male type – warm, practical, “why replace it if it’s still working”, “a bit scraped but who cares”. The beauty is reserved for special occasions, special people, holidays, depression, wedding anniversary or a child’s First Communion. We carry out a lot of studies for construction and interior decoration companies and I think that, culturally, Polish people are rather the male type. What we find repeatedly in those studies is the strongest scripts related to interior decoration: if it’s not broken, why replace it? The reasons such as: I don’t like this (furniture, painting, equipment – put anything here) anymore, I don’t need it anymore (for example a TV that I haven’t watched for ages, with a broken remote control and barely audible), it’s old, scraped, unfashionable, etc. – that rarely counts as a reason for us. You simply don’t throw away something that still performs its functions – better or worse, but it does. The only reason that justifies a replacement is the fact that something is TOTALLY broken and is not fit for further use.

Many people think that it’s ok, because it’s against consumptionism. I think differently. I believe that people often have an untrained sense of beauty and thus attach too little weight to it.


Beauty has an important role in my life. I think that everything in life has to be beautiful. We should surround ourselves with beautiful people, things, words and situations to the fullest extent possible. I think that what surrounds us, what we think about and what we experience has impact on the changes in our emotional DNA, neurons, hormones and even chemical composition of our blood. That is why I don’t accept remaining in ugly surroundings when I don’t have to. When I do – ok, but that doesn’t happen too often.

I was once looking at the results of an unusual study – microscope images of various types of tears. They varied depending on the situation. The tears caused by the loss of a love one are different than those resulting from passing an entrance exam for studies. The tears of joy differ from the tears of anger. The beautiful images of tears – each a different one – showed that our emotions and what we go through is so strong that it changes the chemical composition of our tears.

And if it changes tears, it changes the whole water in our body, so 70% of us!!!

That is why I believe that the more beauty we experience and the more we surround ourselves with tasteful things and extraordinary people, the more often we cry because we are touched rather than due to sadness – the more permanently we change our whole body into a happier, more open, more empathic and gentler one (both towards ourselves and others).

That’s why I think that experiencing beauty has a very practical side to it.

On the New Year’s Eve 2014/15 I was in Antarctica. Each day and every coming ashore was unbelievable. But there was something particularly special about that day. We had already seen glaciers and penguins. An overwhelming limitless silence. Nature was wrapped up in the sun and you could only hear the sounds of ice chunks breaking off or penguins playing.

That and clicking of the camera.

I’m the last person who’d be entitled to complain about that – I drive some of my friends crazy with obsessive photographing. But there was something very special about that day and I was annoyed that Canon and Olympus are winning with ice, penguins and sea lions.

A day before I asked Chad whether we could have a single trip without cameras:

“Of all the people, you are asking for this?!!! Isn’t that you who photographs everything and everyone around without a break?”

“I know, but I would really like not to do this for a moment. And even when I’m not doing it, I hear nothing else but the sound of changed objective lens and shutter clicks. If the whole group went without cameras, we could feel not only being close to nature, but being the nature and we would be able to experience the true beauty of Antarctica.”

“I’d love to help you, but I can’t. I can’t forbid people to take pictures… They paid a lot of money to be here and I cannot take away what’s most important for them – archiving their memories.”

I was a bit disappointed, but I understand that perspective. Who am I to have people adjust to me? Especially since I’m obsessed about the matter myself…

On that day we approached the continent for the first time. We already went ashore before, but never onto the continent – only onto islands. It was the first time that Chad decided that we can go.  I think 90% of the crew also went ashore onto the true Antarctic land for the first time. So that was a really big event.

I was standing in the middle of that white land and felt that I’m the tiniest particle of this world.  I was so moved by where I am and how something so naturally simple and beautiful exists that I stood as if buried in the ground up to my neck and I couldn’t move. I saw how the white mountains blend in with the sky and I wondered how lucky I am to be able to look at something like this. I didn’t want to take pictures anymore. I didn’t want to help others take pictures anymore. I didn’t want to chase the penguins. I wanted to simply be. And so I was, until I heard:

“We’re going back, let’s get into the zodiacs. Julia, hurry up.”

I would have given a lot just to stay there ALONE for even a while longer, but such option is not available even at additional fee. I was so hushed that even rustling of gloves of a person next to me irritated me and as if that wasn’t enough, next to me there was sitting a French family with three kids (and if there is anything worse than a French family with three kids, it’s only an Italian family with no matter how many kids…). I was suffering physically due to being next to them. I was suffering because of hearing some babble about the binoculars and why the penguins are so apprehensive. SILENCE… I, the most talkative person in the world, needed SILENCE the most in that very moment.

“We are in a very special place and it’s also a very special and beautiful day. Sunny, no wind, exceptionally beautiful,” said our Expedition Leader, Chad.

There was humming and nodding: “yes, yes, very beautiful, very much so.”

“That’s why I suggest that we give one another 5 minutes of contemplation. A moment of silence, without cameras, without recorders, without GoPro… Just looking and hearing, with our eyes, ears and hearts…”

I’m not sure whether Chad sensed my suffering somehow, wanted to do this for himself or wanted to make me a gift, but… It was exactly what I needed. A professional photographer was staring with eyes wide open as if he didn’t understand what to do and tried to take a few more pictures, but a significant killer look of Chad forced him to leave the camera and remain in a mood that was more perplexed than contemplative.

When the silence finally appeared, I heard the most beautiful sound of ice cracking in my life.

In Kiev I lived next to the lake. I was in Masurian Lakeland in Poland several times in winter, as well as at the Baltic Sea.  In all those places there is ice. And yet this ice is different, like on a different planet. You hear the tons of water crashing on a giant glacier and making small or big chunks of ice come off it, making it collapse, moving it, pushing it or just hugging it… I don’t know if it’s the enormity of ice or the space. But that’s a kind of magic that will always remain inside me.

I was moved by the beauty, the silence and the fact that I’m literally at the end of the world and see something that is seen only by 30 thousand people a year – I was crying. I was crying so much that for a moment I couldn’t open my eyes. And when I opened them I saw a few other people, including the father from that French family, crying too.

The Spanish geography teacher broke the silence and said: “If I was to die now, I would have nothing against it… What I was supposed to experience on this Earth, I just did. I’ll probably never see a beauty like that again in my life.”

I think he will. And I will too… Maybe if we collect such beautiful and magical moments, our 70% of water will change its structure and change us once and for all as well. In such a way that we will never be bothered again by the scraped walls, ugly cabinets or buildings in unsightly colour  and that we will be more attuned to the everyday grandeur. You can’t have a glacier every day, but you can stop to see a two-year old girl playing football or a beautifully dressed woman, you can smile to a perfectly designed teapot or… whatever you stumble upon.

And when these 70% change in us, we will become a magnet for beauty. It will become our food, our air, our everyday life.

That’s why I think that beauty is a very practical and important experience. There is no superficiality in it, because something that changes us in 70% cannot be called superficial or hollow.

Taking into consideration that I have eight thousand pictures from the Antarctica (because I’m unable to make only good ones in such difficult conditions, not because I got as mad as a hatter) – I took relatively small number of them on that day. Several dozen. I really didn’t feel like taking pictures. On that day the silence and the totally overwhelming extreme beauty was such that I was not in the appropriate mood. 

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