I was effortlessly beautiful in my twenties. Sometimes it’s a struggle to realize that those days are behind me. Then, I see a young woman – beautiful by traditional standards – yet her beauty is overshadowed by her youth and her uncertainty about her place in the world. That will change.
There is beauty in impermanence. Sand castles, clouds, icicles, ocean waves… everything is transient on some level. Even the grand mountain, the venerable tree and galaxies change. We live, in part, in memories and photographs. Touchstones of continuity to help us assimilate the pervasive transientness.
It’s a good thing that beauty is simple and instantaneous. It doesn’t need explanation, only noticing.
I see beauty in the eyes of an elderly person who feels the wisdom of their years and is comfortable with themselves. There is beauty in an aging face, of wearing one’s frequently sampled expressions. An emotional bellcurve documented in skin. A confession of a life.
There is beauty in imperfection and delightful quirks as one’s self-actualization unfolds.
There is beauty in trying to do one’s best, regardless of outcome. Beauty in doing what one can do improve oneself, in reaching inward and outward, testing the boundaries, and finding a deep well of peace.
A small and imperfect gesture of love is beautiful. It’s everything it needs to be, and so is perfect. A stone is beautiful and always the perfect size.
There is beauty in working hard, in creating expressions of love for others. There is beauty in short nails and rugged hands. Strong but gentle. The curve of fingers. Rough skin, wrinkled by long use. There is beauty in the story spoken by hands.
There is beauty in thinking deeply and seeking connectedness and explanation. Beauty in realizing that things that hold the most meaning can be unexplainable. Beauty is knowledge and experience. Beauty in faith and exploring unknowingness where it leads.
There is beauty in silent conversations across a crowd. A subtle smile. A knowing nod. A recognition and an intimacy.
I reflect on these things and realize I am more beautiful than I was before, and will keep improving if I stay on my path.
In The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint–Exupéry writes “What makes the desert beautiful,” said the little prince, “is that somewhere it hides a well.” I would add that it takes years to find the well and to know how to draw from it. Beauty deep as the well.