At a commune in Leicester I was once asked to draw a piece of paper from a wicker basket. It wasn't anything unusual, my friend told me, just a random piece of advice that I could benefit from. Furthermore, my friend said, I would be able to find out a lot about myself from the word I drew.
The small pieces of paper, not dissimilar to crêpe, slipped through my fingers as I fished around in the wicker basket. Eventually my hand closed into a fist around one and I drew out a small slip. Everyone else in the room did the same, and their advice was given. I was the last. What do you have, my friend asked.
"Beauty," I read aloud.
After the essential "it means you're beautiful" jokes had been dispensed with, my friend thought for a while. She told me that I needed to be mindful of the beauty within. Not just myself, but everyone and everything. Stop, she said, and appreciate the beauty within everything if you can. If you need a little respite, try to find what makes things beautiful.
One Direction hadn't been invented yet, so I didn't make the joke you're all thinking of.
I went to work this morning, and when the first break came along, I took myself (and a can of Fanta) to the break room. For some reason, my afternoon in the Leicester commune leapt through my memory. I reasoned, perhaps not unfairly, that there wasn't much beauty to be found in the break room, with its unplugged fridge, broken TV, kettle with no available coffee and stacks of stained chairs. My boss came in and informed me that it used to be worse than this.
She left me to my musings.
As the chilly winter sun poured in through the window, brightening up the room, I reflected. I was in a light room on my own with a can of my favourite drink. Added to that, there was the fact that I did have twenty minutes to myself to calm my thoughts and realign myself after what had previously been a night of unrest and a chaotic morning journey.
Beauty in the silence. And from that, I recognised its bliss.