Beauty

July 27, 2011 § 3 Comments

(Today’s post comes as part of the monthly blog series: Discovery Word By Word. This month, posts are collated by Balancing Val and I though I’d give it a shot. And also because I’m a student and I respond well to assignments.)

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Beauty is history. Timeless, unwavering, unable to be eroded. What is beautiful is always so, what tries hard to be beautiful is not. The paradox of trying too hard. The sublime, the tumultuous. Beauty has always been based on perfection that inspires obsession, love, admiration.

Odalisque, Jules Joseph Lefebvre

Yet when I strive for the modern day equivalent (a picture-perfect life of Californian blue skies, healthy salads, effortless adventures and fun) it eludes me. What I see on my screen most days is beautiful. Just as painters used licks of flesh-coloured paint to whitewash female skin into alabaster oblivion, the camera lens and the laptop screen do a lot of the work in the modern world, and chisel the imperfection from real life.

Fortunately or not, my life is full of rough edges. Having spent years trying to chisel them down too, it’s becoming evident that the old ideals of smooth perfection, Renaissance or Californian, have little place in my life. Really, it’s about changing your ideals and ideas. Adventure is not smooth. Adventure is risky and therefore rough around the edges. And you don’t go through it with perfect hair and no love handles. This insistence on smoothness isn’t real and it wasn’t my idea.

There is, however, stillness in beauty. Connection. Acceptance. None of those things need to be any clearer or cleaner than they already are. Beauty is taking what is naked, what is how it is, just as it is.

And rather than looking trying to be a static odalisque, with your back to the world, it’s more likely to look like creased up eyes, out in the daylight, fresh Scottish rain in your hair, and a smile.

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