In Praise of Collateral Beauty (the concept, not the movie)

2 Jan

After watching the movie Collateral Beauty, I was intrigued by the concept and decided to do some investigation. Turns out there’s really not much written about it. A Google search returns a plethora of criticism about the movie, with little or no understanding or interest in the concept.

Early in the movie, a mother whose child is dying is told by a stranger to “Be sure to notice the collateral beauty.” Later in the movie, the mother repeats the first line and adds — “It’s the profound connection to everything.”

Whether you like the movie or not, I urge you to think about the idea of how something good and beautiful can come from something tragic. And often that beauty or that good manifests itself in the connection to other people.

Having lost my husband tragically and personally battled a relentless cancer, I understand what it feels like to be numb, disconnected, lost, angry, sad, searching desperately for something that makes sense, for meaning, for the tiniest of hope and light.

I also know what it feels like to finally see and feel a tiny break in the clouds, to connect or reconnect through pain, to express love, to accept love from those who share your pain or know your pain or feel it simply because you do.

I like the concept of collateral beauty. I have experienced it personally and seen it play out in the lives of others time and time again. Think about how tragedy often brings people together. How it refocuses our attention on what’s most important in life, how in those times we are able to put aside our differences and grievances, able to give love and feel love. Sadly, it often takes a tragedy for many of us to get there, but get there we do.

What do we call that coming together? That sense of love and connection that seems to come out only in difficult times? Here’s a thought. Why don’t we call it collateral beauty.

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