By Melanie Lee
Author, “A Year In Sedona~Meeting The Muse At Wisdom’s Edge”
(June 18, 2018)
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
After moving to Sedona and learning more about the original inhabitants of the Colorado Plateau region and Sedona, I became fascinated with the Navajo concept of Hozho. Hozho is a term, a concept, a way of life, all of which can mean harmony peace, peace of mind, goodness, ideal family relationships, beauty in arts and crafts, and health of body and spirit.
One example of Hozho is the art work of Navajo (Dine’) sculptor Larry Yazzie. His sculpture Surrender so beautifully illustrates the idea and the story of his creative process adds dimension and gravity to his work. Yazzie says he begins each new piece, never knowing what it will turn out to be, letting the stone itself decide what it wants to become as the piece develops. Yazzie believes that if you ever get to the place where you know what you’re going to do next, then your creative process becomes “just a job.” If there’s a better description of how to surrender to the Muse, then I’d like to know what it is. turqtortsedona.com/Artists/yazzie_larry/index.htm
I think about Yazzie and his process sometimes in the mornings when I get up, make a coffee, sit down, switch on my electric candle (symbolic, handy, economically sensible and besides I’m Aquarius rising), then deliberately start my day by surrendering to beauty. Turning eyes right, a view beyond my small, lace curtained window appears and behold, Hozho! Intriguing chunky textures and shapes, a sturdy pink stone wall, a full cascade of English ivy with deep green leafy variations, caressed by an endless expanse of golden sunrise. Hello out there, you big old beautiful world, what’s out there for me today?
As I write I imagine someone out there saying “Sun, lace, rocks, sky, ivy? Oh please, that’s nothing to get worked up about.” But no, I reply. No, no, a thousand times no! On the contrary, it’s everything to get worked up about. It is in this present moment that I am spoken to about beauty. I am breathing, I am safe, I am grateful and I am blessed. I know how to move into this optimistic and welcoming inner space because I’ve worked for it. Blood, sweat and tears kind of work (that, of course, is a whole other story and I’ve written about it elsewhere). Now, it’s made easy for me, and I choose these words carefully and use the passive voice for a reason. I no longer try to force anything, an awareness and awakeness that comes in its own way, its own time. My part is to follow the curves of the soul, by listening to the Saguaro cacti, speaking to the gnarly old junipers, saluting the stirring sunsets, marveling at the charm of hummingbirds, honoring the magnetic red rocks turned into enchanted cairns living along well used hiking trails.
I think this kind of mindful focus on beauty takes patience, and fortunately when you reach wisdom’s edge a good bit of that is available to us. And it takes courage. My admiration knows no bounds for those people who fiercely and wholeheartedly devote their lives to the embrace and creation of beauty in whatever form they wish to find and define it. The longer I live, the more I hunger for that because life is awash, justdrowning in possibilities for walking the Beauty Way, for the sacred experience of Hozho. I see not only the visual as a part of Beauty Way, but also the intangible and spiritual such as the wish for someone’s well being, a sense of gratitude for comfort and safety, gladness for reconnecting with old friends, letting go of an old, tired, ugly thought.
Purposely focusing on the present moment as a singular beauty in itself is a way to honor it for what it is now and for what it might become. Just as Larry Yazzi begins work on each new piece not knowing what it will turn out to be, I have learned to let the days define themselves for me now. My part is pay attention and surrender to beauty. Because our lives should be more than a job, they should be works of art. Here’s an idea for you to try some morning when you awaken, drink in the promise of the day and and then surrender to beauty.
1) Describe a moment when you encountered something in nature so beautiful that it brought you close to tears with its near-perfection. Don’t forget the sensual details, sight, sound, taste, feel, smell.
2) Create a short tribute for an inspirational person you admire (real person or fictional character) who first gave you a sense of beauty and awakened you to the possibility of being so present that life could be experienced on a higher, more creative and fulfilling plane of existence.
3) Recall and write about a story (could be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, essay) that was so viscerally powerful that, after you’d finished reading it, your life was changed forever in a positive way.
Melanie Lee is an award-winning writer, editor, artist and author. Growing up in Texas, she read mostly biography and autobiography and dreamed of being a writer who could help inspire others to meet their muse by honoring beauty in everyday life. She holds degrees in languages and journalism and was a features editor and columnist, writing everything from lifestyle stories and business news to profiles of entrepreneurs, artists and inventors engaged in the creative pursuit of right livelihood. She lived for ten years in Northern New Mexico where she was creator and director of Sojourns Writing Workshops of Santa Fe.
At the second half of life she moved to Sedona with her husband Louis Michalski. She met her muse anew, took up painting, became a yoga teacher and avid hiker and wrote “A Year in Sedona~Meeting the Muse at Wisdom’s Edge“, available on Amazon.com or from the author. She can be contacted at
P.O. Box 1419 Sedona, AZ 86339 or firstname.lastname@example.org