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Do you walk in Beauty?

Blooming in Beauty

Life is fleeting. Before I know it a day, a week, a month, a year: whoosh, gone.

In theory, I understand that if I’m mindful, let each moment live itself, and my self live that moment, time would expand. Because what is time after all– it’s a concept, it’s a function of motion, it’s the ticking clock in our bodies.

When I read Byron in school, can’t say I liked him much– I found his writing pansy, unreal, and puked in my mouth a little at passages like these from She walks in Beauty:

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

What crap, I used to think, idealizing and infantalizing a woman, making of her something less than flesh-and-blood. A part of me still agrees. But as days slip through my finger like the finest sand, I wonder if some of it isn’t what I want to be: soft, calm, spend my days in goodness (as much as possible- the cynic in me says!) with a mind at peace, and a heart filled with innocent love.

Softness, calmness, peace, innocence, love (compassion) all come with mindful practice, with awareness of each moment, with forgiving oneself for each moment of violence and cynicism (in thought, and in action.) Man, woman, child– the most important thing is that tranquil space inside the mind, the silence and slow-soft rhythm of breath, a rhythm that flows and beats through all of us, human, animal, plant, rock, river, planet.

For the past year or so, been trying (unsuccessfully) to remain aware of that rhythm at all times. The body is most in harmony with it when writing fiction, when in sympathy, empathy and identification with someone ‘other’, a being of my imagination, so the ‘I’ floats away, and becomes a gentle drumbeat.

That’s what has drawn my body and soul into writing fiction, this practice that feels almost like meditation. Compared to this, the ‘thrill’ of acceptance or publication is short-lived, mundane. On some days, reading a good line by another author makes everything else seem trivial.

What about you? Does fiction take you outside of you? Does it bring you harmony and rhythm? Do you walk in Beauty?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Crystal says:

    I am learning to walk in beauty. This is what I love about fiction, poetry, and writing in general. It allows you to think about life, the world, and how one fits into it. I realize that beauty is all around and it is found in the simplest things. In writing fiction and poetry I am able to capture beauty and the world I would like to be in, with words πŸ™‚

  • N.M says:

    Lovely Post..

  • Very honestly put Damyanti! I agree writing is like medittaion πŸ™‚ Great one!

  • dwhirsch says:

    I’m a Certified Zentangle Teacher, and I find the act of “mindful” (overused word) drawing allows me to slow down, focus. Paying attention to that lets me pay attention to me, to see the world thru my eyes and to deal with my setbacks/challenges. Writing fiction is more stressful than my preferred non-fiction: the story is not there for you to re-tell. Focusing on that creativity is actually freeing as it is stressful. There’s beauty in learning to deal with it all.

  • Flowery, lyrical, I like Byron’s poem. I like your writing, too.

    I do get lost in my writing, sometimes, and I do find rhythm and haromony in the writing process.

  • Yes to all. In fiction you become the characters and the locals, but that is true in any writing. If you are writing a poem it is usually from a parallel universe that is more the way you want it or would have created it. Their is no limit to the imagination. The limits come from the finite universe.

  • uniqusatya says:

    Hey,so good to see you,am almost lost with AZing πŸ™‚
    Yeah imagination is all it is when it comes to fiction.But not without the basic knowledge of things.Though am not successful in fiction till now,sad.but yes i have the affinity towards it,so hope to write fiction at some point in my life

  • Beautiful πŸ™‚

  • JR Owens says:

    It’s often said we should live in the moment, as if we had a choice to do otherwise. I worked as a journalist for 15 years so being cynical is part of my personality and thinking about it, or being aware of it all the time does not change it. Certainly, you can always change your direction and actions, but you can’t change your thoughts; they have a mind of their own you might say. So, if fiction writing works for you, acts as an escape, allows you to be someone else and forget that time is passing by, then that is what you should do.

  • Yes fiction does take you outside yourself, but fiction is an expression of what you’ve seen and learned over time, what you’ve wished could have happened or would happen. You enter into some other person as you write and face many crossroads in the story pausing to choose one direction and move on. Sometimes there is beauty and sometimes ugliness as the story unfolds. As for the old poets? Majestic language they command and it depends on personality as to how you view their works.

  • Julia Lund says:

    I’ve never really thought of writing fiction in those terms, but I think you are on to something there. I always begin a writing session with a time of reflection and praying. The hours that follow are amongst the most tranquil and in-the-moment of my life – searching for a word that captures a breath, a heartbeat, a sense of place, focuses me in ways little else so consistently does.

  • Lanise Brown says:

    Byron’s poetry is quite flowery, but I do see your point about there being beauty and simplicity in it all. Just like with life and the trials that come along, there’s still a beauty there if we’re willing to look. πŸ™‚

  • Reading something beautifully written does that, and being able to write each day does that for me, too. πŸ™‚

  • beautifully written!

  • cricketmuse says:

    We just covered Byron last month. I asked my students if it would be better to be beautiful physically yet have a horrid personality or have a beautiful personality yet be unattractive physically. Most went with beautiful personality. My personal theory is Byron’s idealized beauty was unreal because never did he speak to her. She could have been quite snooty.

  • Peter Nena says:

    “On some days, reading a good line by another author makes everything else seem trivial.”
    I couldn’t agree more, Damyanti. Stories heal.

  • Ocean Bream says:

    Fiction does take me to a place outside of me. Thank you for this post. It made me realise that humans are humans. I love writing fiction because it opens my minds to worlds of possibility, it allows me to escape from the dreary reality that is time and deadlines, limits and difficulties. For example, I can’t fly. That upsets me greatly, you know. I wish I could soar over the feilds. You see, fiction allows me to fly. What could be better than that?

  • Elle says:

    walking in beauty, gratitude and love. this was beautiful.

  • To me, fiction puts me in different mindsets, like I am put in other dimension for a moment after I close the page. In fiction there is a certain magical quality, no matter how realistic the subject matter, that makes me immediately more observant of the world around me. I find that I am the most creative version of myself after I read a good book. It’s like a long lasting high in which you are suddenly aware of the things you constantly miss. What a wonderful topic to think about!

    • Ocean Bream says:

      I fully agree! Fiction truly does turn that creative lock on the brain. I feel like the world is a storybook after reading something marvellously fiction. I’m glad to have read your comment.

  • Birgit says:

    I like to walk in beauty even if it is just in my mind’s eye:). I like to meditate and create cards which makes me calm and happy just like writing does for you and so many others

  • I’ve been learning to meditate. I realise, reading this, that I have done no creative writing for a while (all revision, re-writing, marketing etc). Time to get back to the real job.

    • Ocean Bream says:

      Me neither. I feel like I’ve hit a creative block but I also read somewhere that if you write everyday, no matter how little, your creative bubble grows ever bigger. The road, as Bilbo says, goes ever on.

  • literarylad says:

    Beautifully put. Writing fiction is about the only thing I can do to escape from the constant mind chatter that plagues me; to distract myself from all that seems to be wrong with the world. It does give me a peace I struggle to find anywhere else.

  • cbecker53 says:

    And I think it’s not so much that the woman being described is “soft, calm, spends her days in goodness, with a mind at peace, and a heart filled with innocent love,” but that the one who loves her perceives her that way. That kind of appeals to me. I agree, that doesn’t describe me, and I’m not sure I would necessarily want it to, at least not all the time. But for someone who loves me to perceive me that way–I kind of like that. πŸ™‚

  • Like you, I do try to walk in beauty and live in peace and love. It actually seems easier to do as I get older (and more mellow, I guess). I don’t do much writing anymore (can’t seem to find the time!), but I do love reading fiction, fantasy in particular. I get lost in those worlds and enjoy seeing different viewpoints, celebrating the character’s triumphs, and even crying at their losses. And it’s amazing how much you can learn from a fictional story- there are lots of very real facts to be gleaned from those authors πŸ˜‰

  • missing you this year on the A to Z Challenge. I find more peace with my poetry and photography. Writing fiction for me takes another type of energy similar to the demand you need when you run. That is probably why I sought the poetry to balance me out.
    Hope you are doing well in your writing.

  • I didn’t like it when I was to write the critical appreciations for this poem, but later when I read Byron just for the sake of reading, I fell in love with his works… “When We Two Parted” is also my favourite… πŸ™‚

  • It’s a mind-blowing poem and can feel the sensation on the skin. Flawless piece. Writing fiction can be a daunting exercise.

  • draliman says:

    Fiction totally takes me outside of me – it’s my great escape. However. given the subject matter of both the fiction I read and the flash fiction I write, I couldn’t describe it as “beautiful”.

  • Reblogged this on WORDS DROPLETS.

  • oshrivastava says:

    Reblogged this on oshriradhekrishnabole.

  • Will Once says:

    Interesting how people can read the same poem and come to very different conclusions!

    For me, this isn’t some soppy love poem. Byron is teasing the reader by giving out mixed messages and little hints. Is she beautiful or does she simply walk in beauty? Is beauty only skin deep or is it also under the surface? What is his relationship to her – admiration from afar, frustration, a question? And is he teasing us by counterpointing Shakespeare’s “Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day?”

    This poem is enigmatic because of what it doesn’t tell us. It invites the reader to fill in the blanks.

  • lifestyleproblog says:

    Indeed… reading fiction makes me happiest! A good work by another author can transpose me into their world. I come back delighted and a tad bit jealous πŸ˜‰

    Writing on the other hand is therapeutic. I am creating stories all the time. While cooking food, while going to office, while showering, while sleeping even! It helps me get through a mundane life…

    • Ocean Bream says:

      The Night Circus is a book that feels much like writing fiction, as well as reading it. Your comment reminded me of that feeling.

  • BellyBytes says:

    I envy your ability to immerse yourself in fiction. These days I am so caught up with life that I am completely detached from my reading world and hardly ever get lost in the beauty. πŸ™

  • A lovely reflection. When I write fiction I’m there in the story, quite unconscious of “me”. And when I re-read what’s written, I wonder where it came from. So, yes is the answer at the end of your thought-provoking piece: fiction take me away from myself.

  • Kate says:

    I’ve never been fond of Byron as a poet. I think of him more as Polidori’s Vampire. (Shelly annoyed me more though.) However, there are a few poems that enjoyed. She Walks in Beauty is one of them. But I’ve always focussed on the first verse more than the last.

    She walks in beauty, like the night
    Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
    And all that’s best of dark and bright
    Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
    Thus mellowed to that tender light
    Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

    And I took from that the idea of balance being equal to beauty. She’s the best of the dark and the light. She’s found a way to be calm and centered and that is what is most tantalizing about her. (Especially for someone with Byron’s histrionic temperament.) Not the blazing of the sun, but the soothing light of the moon. I find that idea comforting. And from what I see in your post, that’s what you’ve taken from the last lines — compassion and balance.

    Writing is where I find that balance. Some days it flows like a thunderstorm, some days I struggle for a few dissident sentences, but it is the constant in my life. In high times and in low, I write.

    I’ve rambled on enough now, so I’ll stop here. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  • Carrie Rubin says:

    “so the β€˜I’ floats away”–I like that very much. While I try to make potential readers feel empathy for my characters, I hadn’t really thought of how I’m also invoking my own empathy by creating them. Nice way to look at things. πŸ™‚

  • Without a doubt. John Grisham’s The Testament resounded in my mind a thing of beauty because of it’s Ecclesiastes like language. I know many seek affluence believing it’s lies, but many seek affluence with a very pure motive.

    Seems you fall into the later as you contemplate our live’s brevity.

    Paradox meets us at every turn and season, but the things of beauty lead us to peace. This blog is one of them.

    Thank you Damyanti.

    • Damyanti says:

      Probably the best compliment my blog has ever received, Daniel. A thing of beauty. Wow. Thank you so much, both for stopping by, and your kind words.

  • macjam47 says:

    It seems to me that you have the best reason to keep writing. Hugs.

  • Writing takes me to places where I cannot go, will never go. And perhaps, don’t physically want to go. But there is peace in going there through the safety of a story.

  • “See, this is why I follow your blog. So honest, so simple and so well written. This is an effortless read.” – Dan Antion sums it up nicely. I didn’t read a lot of Byron growing up, but I read Shakespeare and understand what you’re saying. Things changed for me too and I appreciate these poets much more now.

  • Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    in springtime….and all seasons—-yes!

  • I’m not terribly tuned in to beauty. Well, traditional beauty. I like unusual, creative, passion, enthusiasm, spirit, energy. Those are ‘beautiful’. And yes–fiction brings that to me!

  • I like to walk in the woods, and it’s there where these rhythms, for me, find expression. Very thoughtful words, thanks.

    • Damyanti says:

      Yes, that’s another way to walk in harmony– communing with nature, which has never lost its heartbeat.

  • I walk in beauty, yes, but every sublime face has a grinning skull behind it. Stephen King is a tantamount moral compass for my being. Although evil abounds in his work; the good, most often prevail; or get justifiable revenge. This gives me great solace.

  • Arlee Bird says:

    Well, I live in Los Angeles and though the weather is often beautiful, when I walk outside it’s still Los Angeles and I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    As a partly romanticist sort I’m kind of a sucker for beautiful poetic language. I strive for that at times in my own writing and am often moved when I read the right words at the right time. Then again there are the times I just want the harsh reality of it all and prefer straightforward journalistic approach. So I guess it’s a matter of time and place and mood and mindset combined with just the right writer in the genre du jour.

    I walk in beauty when that’s where my mind is. Maybe that’s the easy answer.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

  • Dan Antion says:

    See, this is why I follow your blog. So honest, so simple and so well written. This is an effortless read. I don’t write fiction. Maybe someday but I doubt it. I am more comfortable telling stories, that’s where I feel at ease, at home. Good to see a post from you.

    • Damyanti says:

      Dan, thankyou. Those are the reasons I follow your blog, too. On some days, I feel my blog makes me meet my tribe, who get me. Today is one of those days, and you’re definitely in my tribe.