Pet Please #71: When Something Is Too Beautiful for Your Brain to Comprehend

When I was 14, my family went on a cross-country train trip. We went up to Chicago to see a Frank Lloyd Wright house, across Utah, up to Oregon, back across Glacier National Park, and eventually we ended up back home in Virginia. It was a great trip, and I’m glad I took it when I was a little older, because I was starting to think about things. All sorts of things.

I had a lot of ideas about the world and about people and life and love–my brain was working on high gear throughout the trip. I couldn’t stop thinking and talking and loving.

And then we stopped at Bryce Canyon in Utah, and all of my thoughts stopped dead in their tracks.

We had just finished a day hike into the canyon and were getting ready to leave. I was standing at the edge of one of the overlooks. The sun was setting, and the entire world was filled with hues of orange and red and purple–not just the sky, but the entire canyon.

I distinctly remember standing there, trying to soak in all that beauty. And I simply couldn’t do it. It was too much. Too much beauty for my tiny brain to comprehend. I felt it in my chest, my heart, my lungs–every part of me was simultaneously filled with that beauty and sucked dry of comprehension.

I remember having these thoughts at the time: “I can’t comprehend this much beauty, but it’s worth knowing that there are some things in the world that are too beautiful for me to comprehend. And that’s okay.”

I cherish that moment, just as I cherish the other few moments in my life when the beauty is simply overwhelming. (In fact, they are so rare that the only other one I can remember offhand is the first time I saw breasts.)

Can you relate to this? Can you remember any of those moments/experiences?