The Beauty Behind Actions
Beauty is in the positive actions of those around us because when we act positively, wonderful
outcomes can arise out of negative situations. In the process of bettering my life, I have seen the beauty
in helping others. Although I have struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, and because I have stayed
motivated, I have been able to stay sober for two years and help others get better as well. Because of this,
the positivity in presentations such as Liv Gagne’s “My Personal Experience With Art” have stood out to
me. Beauty in the little things in life instead of the material objects, as talked about in John Armstrong’s
“La bella vita”, is important. I believe that today’s society puts a lot of stress on the beauty in
materialistic items and falls short to see where beauty truly lies, in the affirmative behavior of others.
There was a time where I fell short in my idea of beauty. Drinking and drugging became my idol.
During the addiction I underwent, I grew vein and only saw beauty in the material world. I tried many
times to get sober but it never stuck until about two years ago. When I stepped into recovery, I was
finally able to see beauty. The beauty I began to see was in other people, the good they were doing, and in
the way that I, and so many others, was finally able to find hope in life. Part of that was seeing other
people come back from relapse and get better because it helped me and other people know that we are
not alone. Macklemore’s song “Starting Over” is a good example of this. He describes a relapse that he
went through and the humility he had when he came back. Macklemore sings “If I can be an example of
getting sober, I can be an example of starting over.” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis- Starting Over
Macklemore gives others strength by creating a song about his relapse with such honesty.
Beauty can be in the action of helping others. John Armstrong states “The point of beauty is to
elevate the soul.” In other words, Armstrong is saying that beauty is made to be experienced as a tool for
emotional growth. Today the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is used as a tool for growth. Helping
others is a huge part of this, as the twelfth step is to carry the message of Alcoholics Anonymous to other
people who are suffering and to bring this work into our everyday lives. I am blessed to be able to
sponsor women in the program because I take them through all 12 steps. Once they complete these steps
they get to sponsor other women and I get to see many more recover. John Armstrong states, “Don’t get
worked up trying to figure out which things are beautiful”. He is talking about how it is okay that beauty
can be different from one person to another.
Unfortunately, because everyone is allowed to have their own perception of beauty, many people in
society do not see the beauty in Alcoholics Anonymous because it does not fit their standard idea of
beauty. Many people see beauty in the entities that they or other people own. This looks like people
obsessing over new cars, jobs, clothes, shoes or jewelry. When we focus only on the objects in our
possession, we can judge other people for not having them. This leads to criticising those who may not fit
in with others ideas of normal. I have seen a multitude of people, in the news, television, and magazines,
condemn those in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous merely because they do not fit their standard.
John Armstrong states “To regard beauty as an a luxury adornment or a social signifier was to miss the
true potential of the experience.” Armstrong is saying that when others view beauty as solely in the
material world, they overlook its real purpose.
Beauty has two forms: the sense drive and the form drive. The sense drive is about living in the
moment and the form drive is about seeking understanding. In order to find something beautiful, we use
both drives. Armstrong states “When we recognise beauty in a piece of music, or the graciousness of
someone’s conduct, we see things that we know we have neglected or betrayed, and we feel an
astonishing combination of anguish and delight.” What Armstrong is saying is that when you see beauty
in the small things, like music or someone’s actions, you see what you can improve on and you also feel
warm inside. Much like in recovery, beauty has a balance. Seeing women and men fight against an ugly
addiction and find happiness and peace is beautiful. In recovery, knowing the struggles that people have
gone through and seeing them grow happier and become stronger individuals feeds both drives.
A beauty that I am blessed with is seeing others recover and being a part of their process of recovery
as a sponsor, and a staff member at a treatment facility. I am graced with the responsibility of working as
an on call recovery support staff at Liberty Bay Recovery Center. People come into Liberty Bay Recovery
Center depressed, lonely, and afraid. At the end of 90 days they graduate as a totally different person and
it is incredible. This process is not easy. Residents work with licensed clinicians to gain their life back
and become positive members of their communities. Although residents have good days and bad days,
just like everyone can, the results at the end of their 90 days can be amazing and that is the beauty of it
Liv Gagne talked about how art can help patients in the Boston Children’s Hospital to feel
better emotionally and sometimes even feel better physically. Liv Gagne states, “Around the world loved
ones are going to get sick, whether now or in the future, art can help ease their pain.” Liv points out how
art, a well known beauty, can be used in a beautiful way to help other people. At Liberty Bay Recovery
Center, and at many other treatment facilities, we also use art therapy as a technique to help the
residents feel better, and to teach healthy coping skills.
Beauty in my life is not material objects; beauty in my life is the affirmative actions of others,
personal growth, and happiness, which I find in recovery. I find that Armstrong’s idea of beauty being
two forms that balance each other, mirrors my idea of beauty in that recovery has two sides to it. It is
also important to know the many forms that art and other aspects of helping others are beautiful as
shown in Liv Gagne’s presentation. Luckily, in my life, the most important thing is practicing helping
others, so I get to see beauty every day.
Armstrong, John. “La bella vita.” Aeon.co. 14 Feb 2014. Web.
25 April 2018.
Gagne, Olivia. “My Personal Experience With Art.” WordPress.UNEportfolio.org. 10 March 2018.
Web. 25 April 2018.
Macklemore. Lewis, Ryan. “Starting Over.” Youtube.com. 10 Dec 2013. Web. 25 April 2018.