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Unbearably Beautiful


Recently, I ran across this quote from author Susan Cain, talking about what inspires her:

“One of the most inspiring things is other writers who create something almost unbearably beautiful.”

The phrase, “unbearably beautiful” touched something inside of me.

I find many things beautiful.

The bluest of blue skies in the middle of August in Iowa.

A well-played game of Scrabble, with a “Z” or “Q” on the triple letter square, a 7-letter word on the triple word square, and a balanced mixture of consonants and vowels throughout the game.

Rows of striped green watermelons at the Saturday farmer’s market.










Photo by Pixabay


A patio of clay pots with deep purple and magenta salvia, white gardenias, shocking pink geraniums, and soft pink begonias.

The look of a grandpa, holding his newborn grandson, with his son standing next to him.

A tidy bed, hotel style, with crisp white cotton sheets.

A collection of handmade breads, cakes, and scones artfully displayed by proud bakers competing on the show, “Britain’s Best Bakery.”

But unbearably beautiful? That’s something else.

I have come closest to moments of unbearable beauty when I am coaching or working in sacred space as a healer. These are times when performing yields to authenticity, thinking gives way to feeling, armor dissolves in favor of vulnerability. This is when one’s humanity is honored and one’s divinity is revealed.

The words are often simple. “I regret.” “I forgive.” “I love.” Sometimes there are no words. Instead, I hear soft sobs, sense the lightness after a burden has been lifted, or feel the resonance of boundless joy.

When I have been blessed to witness a moment of unbearable beauty, I transcend the ordinariness of my daily routine.  I am no longer semi-retired, living in Iowa City, in the midst of summer. I am a soul on this planet, in time and space that feels eternal.

As Susan Cain says, “Everybody has their own way of expressing the intense beauty of the world. Somebody’s inclination might be to go sing a hymn in a church. I don’t think that’s very different from the desire to write a poem or a book. They’re all expressions of wanting to tap into the same heightened theme of existence.”

I never thought about it in this way. I am a coach and healer because it connects me to unbearable beauty. What a joy!

What is unbearably beautiful for you? I’d love to hear. Post a comment below.


  1. June Eakin on August 14, 2023 at 5:40 PM

    The beautiful smiling face of my adult daughter who grew up as my son.

    • Carol Ross on August 14, 2023 at 6:53 PM

      Thanks for sharing, June. Your unconditional love as a mother is palpable!

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