Two of the focuses of Plato's thinking were love and beauty. Love connecting to aspiration through relationships, and Beauty connecting to aspiration through art. More broadly than art, the objects and things we choose to surround ourselves with. The connection between the two ideas resonates deeply with my experience. He believed we fall in love with people who have a quality we admire, but lack. Calm, self-discipline, eloquence, balance, grace. He also believed objects, paintings, buildings and other forms of art are able to highlight these same values, and trigger similar emotions.
Plato's Agathon, a handsome poet, invites his friends around to eat, drink, and talk about love
A beautiful idea. It explains in part our essentialist attachment to things. In the same way as we fall in love with a person beyond rationality, we are able to fall in love with forms of art. Love and art lift us higher. They make us better versions of ourselves. In Plato's eyes, love is a form of education. A good relationship challenges you. Equally, beautiful objects invite us to evolve in their direction.
I find this obvious when spending time with those closest to me. They are mirrors of who I am, but with their own paths. A similar story, but from a different angle. Often that change of angle sheds an obstruction. It allows me to let go of any defensiveness I may have when reflecting on myself. But still be reflecting on myself, through them.
We grow through, and with, what and who we include in our space, and time.