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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Douglas on June 20, 2009

Quantifying Beauty

Earlier this year I took a trip to snowshoe up Blueberry Mountain in Weld, Maine. I was joined by my good friend Bobby, and his father Bob, who lives on the mountain. As we stood on the summit (shivering in the cold) Bob said, "This is really the most beautiful view in the state."

I smiled politely, thinking that - while it was quite lovely - I had seen nicer.

A week ago I took a trip up to Bodfish, Maine (yes, there really is a place called Bodfish!) to hike Borestone Mountain. Halfway up the mountain there is a nature station, manned by a Maine Audubon ranger. After climbing the mountain I stopped at the station to visit with her. We chatted for quite awhile about this and that, and she said to me, "Not too many people know about this mountain, but really, it has the nicest view anywhere!"

I agreed that it was quite lovely, and thought of Bob.

Really, how do you quantify beauty? How can I look at two mountains and say "This one is more beautiful than that one?" And how can I be completely unbiased about it? Who defines what is, and what is not beautiful?

Recently I overheard a conversation in which a young lady was told "You're so pretty, you don't even need make-up." I smiled to myself, thinking of the old adage "If the barn door needs painting, paint it!"

Then I paused to reflect, "It is true; she is a pretty girl. But the things that make her truly lovely are things which could never be captured by a camera."

Those are the qualities that - though they may not be quantifiable - are lovelier than the most majestic of mountains.

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