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Beauty Every Day

Written by Mary Talley
Atlantic Shores Resident since March 2001

The assignment in our Atlantic Shores Writers’ Group was “Write about the most beautiful place you’ve seen.” That topic could encompass a lot of places considering that the combined journeys of our fifteen members, ranging in age from mid-seventies to early nineties, have taken us to every continent and every ocean on this planet. We’ve each seen myriad places, many of them beautiful. My own catalog of sights I treasure in memory includes the clove trees on the island of Zanzibar, Victoria Falls, the delicate growth in the rain forest on the ascent of Kilimanjaro (which was about as far up as I got), acres of Texas bluebonnets, autumn leaves in full color in the Smokey’s, the eye-stretching fields of grain in Montana, the jewel-like natural harbor of Ocracoke Island—and that’s just my short list. This assignment has drawn me, however, to reflect on a very present place of beauty in my life: Atlantic Shores.

Indeed, this campus is visually pleasing all seasons of the year—someone “vacationing” here could spend days enjoying the natural, but well-tended landscape. Initial credit for the 1996 landscaping goes to one who is now an active resident here and who shares his words in our writers’ group. Flowers, trees, ponds, water birds and woodland birds, not to mention interesting planting cultivated by individual residents, provide many feasts for the eyes. And, there’s space—the kind of open areas that make it easy to see the sky, to feel uncrowded, to stretch and wiggle, to appreciate what can be seen.

For me Atlantic Shores is also beautiful because it eases my mind from concerns that would elsewhere be worries—I feel curious sometimes about who’s knocking at my door, but I’m never uneasy or afraid; my car is safe in the parking lot; I can drive home late at night, park, walk in with a load of shopping bags, and feel entirely safe.

When the inevitable plumbing or electrical problems crop up, I call and help arrives in dependable timing, at a modest, clearly scheduled cost. I am completely at ease with those who come to provide help. And, of course, it’s beautiful not to worry during driving rains and winds about having to repair the roof, not to give a thought to painting or other maintenance.

Peace of mind is a breath-giving beauty.

With my mind freed from concerns of safety, maintenance, and such matters which can rapidly erode personal energy, I’m able to enjoy another kind of beauty – the beauty of freely asking, “What do I really want to do?” It’s no longer, “Oh, I wish I had time to…,” It’s, “Now I can!” At this stage of my life that is truly beautiful – sure, I have some of the predictable limitations that come after seven or more decades of doing about, but to have the door held open for using my energy for what is most interesting to me is splendid!

Furthermore, beauty is not just about the beholder, no matter what she says. A big part of what makes Atlantic Shores beautiful is that it is such a remarkable community—staff and residents of diverse backgrounds, perspectives, skills, inhaling and exhaling in rhythms that pulse with caring and support. We are not especially saintly and once in a while there may seem to be a grouch in every corner, but day- in, day- out, a grace and fondness in our life together add vivid depth to the beauty of this place. I’m glad, for this chapter of my life, to be living in the most beautiful of all the places I can think of.