I have been ruminating on beauty lately, examining it in an attempt to understand our collective idolization of it and the limited way in which we selectively define it. I ran across this definition, "Beauty is a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure, meaning or satisfaction." Okay, nothing new there. However this little tidbit was a bit more scintillating, "the experience of "beauty" often involves the interpretation of some entity as being in balance and harmony with nature, which may lead to feelings of attraction and emotional well-being." Aahh, I like that little distinction, particularly in regards to "being in balance and harmony with nature". Socially, we have become so utterly invested in a cultural ideal of beauty and, blinded by a microscopic lens of limited perfection, we have missed its deeper implications. We pursue beauty but only very rarely do we experience it. Coaxed by ad campaigns, we wage a full frontal war on age, cellulite, body odor, dandruff, flab, dingy teeth, shabby clothes, on ourselves, each other and ultimately on nature itself.
For me this all boils down to one simple metaphor...ears. As a child I was called Dumbo or big ears, with the giggling condemnation of a life sentence. I grew long hair. I avoided public swimming, strong breezes, intimate moments in dread that my ears would unfold in unruly abandon, shocking onlookers into finger pointing hysterics. Ridiculous perhaps... but how many of us are caged by imagined imperfections?
Perhaps it is the result of time, or motherhood or because lines and wrinkles now distract me from a single minded condemnation of auditory appendages, I don't know. What I can say is that after some deliberation on the topic of what makes me feel beautiful, I realized the simple answer is and has always been "my ears". The source of my humiliation and ruminations... an indelible reminder of my interminable individuality. They are mine, real, breezy and fine. When I embrace the flawed, unsymmetrical perfection of this body I inhabit, I experience a sense of balance and harmony with the nature that created it. And let me say loud and clear, from the rooftops- experiencing beauty is incomparably greater than pursuing it.
My ears taught me that.