I used to think I could enjoy beauty best when by myself. When, significantly younger, I read a quote, which is most like the following by C.S. Lewis, I found myself in peevish disagreement.
'I had not noticed, either, that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: "Isn't she lovely? Wasn't it glorious? Don't you think that magnificent?"[...]
'I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.'
Expressed? Oh, please, NO. Most things I enjoy(ed) I enjoyed doing by myself, silent and unexpressed. The example that comes to mind is whenever I would acquire something special- a book, a cookie, a letter, a chunk of chocolate- I would save it till the most quiet, serene, secluded moment, when I had no other pleasures to distract me, and I would take out that piece of chocolate and revel in its seductive chocolate-perfection... alone. THAT could not be so enjoyed with somebody else. I was a living contradiction to Lewis' hypothesis.
Time has since changed my mind. Meals eaten alone. Walks taken alone. Breathtaking mornings and soul-stealing nights when solitude left me an Eve single in the garden- not good at all.
Days like today-- walking through campus- the sky brilliant- the trees golden- and no one with whom to confirm the beauty I felt.
I suspect that what stumbled me when I first read about enjoyment was that Lewis stops at saying that it must be "expressed" and does not define it, leaving me to assume noisy, audible rhapsodies which would drown out the beauty around.
As I walked that walkway and felt pangs of wistful loneliness creep over me- I found myself wondering what it was I wanted. Somebody to talk to? Somebody to praise with- to share audible exclamations of wonder? Mmm.... Yes, maybe. But I am an introvert. And I find as often as not that beauty is silencing.
But it was expression I wanted. It wasn't enough to be silent. Is it possible that there is something in us passed on from our Creator- that we are not content to simply know something is good, we are compelled to proclaim it?
I wanted communication, affirmation, and mutual delight. -A smile- a touch- a knowing look- a merry eye. One shared look and my joy would have been expressed. My delight would have been complete.
So say on, Lewis, that we long for expression. But if my tongue can find no words, let my face express my joy.