Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns

What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.–Tennessee Williams

Like most human beings, my eyes are drawn to clean, straight lines, the quickest distance between Point A and Point B.

Staircase at the Art Institute in Chicago

Staircase at the Art Institute in Chicago

In fact, when I sit down to eat, I will often straighten my dinner plate and silverware if they don’t line up to the edge of the table and the placemat!  My mind loves the repetition of lines, which creates patterns.  This satisfies my need for order and symmetry and contributes to my perception of progress.

Walking the Capitoline Hill, Rome.

Walking the Capitoline Hill, Rome.

Lines and patterns are rational.  They give us the illusion that life is regulated by laws and predictable events.  They also help convince us that we are part of a logical and orderly cosmos, ruled by scientific laws.  In fact, our mind is trained to appreciate the proportion and symmetry of lines, of curves, of structures–which are essential components of our thought processes when we decide someone or something is beautiful.  This is a constant in the human experience.

Etruscan Beauty

Etruscan Beauty

Etruscan Mosaic

Etruscan Mosaic

However (and this is a big however), the natural world isn’t really like that.  It’s disorderly and messy.  It has very few straight lines.   The same is true for our lives.  In fact, life is often a crooked journey with blind alleys and switchbacks.   It is confusing and often frightening.   It makes us hunger for the orderly and predictable world we  have fabricated.  It makes us long for straight lines and measurable angles.

Tiffany window and staircase, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Tiffany window and staircase, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Chaos is an uncomfortable place.  Its laws are unfathomable to most of us except theoretical physicists!  This is where I am living right now.  I have stepped through a door into a different world–filled with hospitals and caregivers and a new language.  At times it is confusing and even frightening.  But, even amidst the chaos, I am learning so much about myself and what I truly value.  And what is truly important.   I have found beauty in other people, in the human spirit.  These bits of truth and wisdom are the hidden treasures which I will bring back with me when I return to the “real” world.

Curious about other interpretations of this week’s theme?  Click below:

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