Cecil Beaton, February 1931, The Wandering Years, Diaries: 1922-39
The young Beaton was all but ready to give up when a deus machina in the form of Edith Sitwell arrived. She and her brothers not only removed him from his office job, they launched him into the stratosphere. His life became a whirlwind of conquests and achievements, as he made a name for himself in London, Paris, New York City, and Hollywood. In a matter of days, Beaton went from moping in his bedroom to photographing London society in a makeshift photography studio. He became the aesthete of the moment, with nary a moment to stop and smell the roses (though he did paint and photograph them).
As Cecil Beaton noted back in 1931, how easy it is to be catapulted into the future via the means of a busy calendar. And, with improvements in travel and communication, life has only speeded up in the subsequent decades. Well, at least it had until March 2020, when the world slammed on its brakes.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had tragic consequences, and it is incumbent on us all to do what we can to offer whatever aid and comfort to those adversely affected. However, fate seldom takes away without offering something back in return (one of life’s most challenging lessons to accept). The fortunate among us now have the luxury of time (of which Cecil Beaton wrote back in 1931). Maybe it is not best spent binge-watching Tiger King on Netflix? Instead, why not take in the scent of those roses that Cecil Beaton painted and photographed but was too far busy to savor?