Countdown to Ski Season: 51 Days and My First Aesthetic Experience
Using the word "aesthetic" can be a minefield. I'll proceed cautiously because it means something different to everyone. According to Merriam-Webster Online, aesthetic is "of, or relating to, the beautiful." My "Philosophy of Art" professor would probably cringe at my spitting out the definition of aesthetic from Merriam-Webster. If you're like him and think aesthetic is so much more than studying or understanding beauty, you'd be right.
I had my first genuine aesthetic experience (let's call it beholding the beautiful) while skiing my senior year of high school. At this point I hadn't taken "Aesthetics" or "Philosophy of Art", but it didn't matter. When I was in the mountains I knew there was something beyond beauty. Beyond sublime. Beyond words. All experiences are perceptions, but the perception that the snow and mountains around me were more beautiful than I could comprehend was reality at that moment.
For me, nature holds those true and few aesthetic experiences. For others it might be found in the city, in music, in painting, in film, in food, or perhaps even in manufacturing. No matter where this state of mind is found, it is something that makes us react in our attitude, emotions, and mannerisms toward the world around us, and in a great and necessary way.
As I'm skiing down Africa or Marx this winter I hope to allow for the beauty of where I live and work and play wash over me so I'm forced to stop and just absorb it. Aesthetic experiences most often just hit me in the face, but sometimes I have to let them in.