Thursday, January 20, 2011

What is Beauty?

Don't you dare say "Beauty was a horse". I'm going for "In the eyes of the beholder". Maybe it is my farm roots, maybe it is my journey from ugly duckling to old goose. Perhaps it comes from the people on Neff Road.

Sure, my vision isn't as good as it was way back when, yet in many ways, my vision is clearer than ever before. What is beauty?

During my acting days, I was required to get head shots, those pictures that go with the actor from audition to audition. The photographer was busy setting up for the shoot. While he fiddled around, I paged through the albums of his work. One album captured my attention.

"Owen, these photos are wonderful. How did this happen?" I asked.

"It began with my mother," he replied.

This son found that as his mother aged, her wrinkles and changing shape became more beautiful. He explained that the lines and wrinkles were pages of her history as well as his. The laugh lines, the lines of sorrow, those of from living a hard life, an age of war, struggle during the lean years and those from raising her son all laid a map of her history on her body. Owen saw her beauty.

None of us can turn on the TV without seeing ads for beauty, weight loss and ways to stay young. Since deciding to let my hair find its natural color, I have also found a freedom. I found a new me.

Don't you love the 'before and after' that pops up on many morning shows. I always wonder what was wrong with the 'before'? Sure, maybe a haircut and a little blush on the cheeks would be nice, but each of those women are beautiful 'as is'. Instead a random woman is given a hair style that will never look the same once she leaves the studio, hair color and make up that add to her budget. Her new clothing will be her only designer outfit among her normal wear. So what have they really done for this woman?

When visiting my friend in the care center every week, the halls are filled with beautiful people and too often forgotten people. In each face, there is a story, a history. I try to make them smile and greet them one by one, many times answered with a look of surprise or no response. They are true beauty, these people who have lived through their good and bad times.

Perhaps beauty lies in the unconditional love we have for one another, an acceptance of differences. Last year I visited the Brethren Home, visited my old friends and neighbors. The most beautiful people live there. I held Margaret's hand and thought, "This hand held mine when I was a child. She loved me and cared for me like her own." She is indeed beautiful.

Beauty comes from the heart of those who look for it. And yes, Beauty was a horse.

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