Beauty equals…

lily

“The real sin against life is to abuse and destroy beauty, even one’s own – even more one’s own, for that has been put in our care and we are responsible for its well-being.” Katherine Anne Porter, journalist and author

I’ve been trying to position myself towards the topic of beauty for a long time now. I have been brought up in a home that did not celebrate beauty. “Beauty is only skin-deep” was probably the most often used statement about beauty that I heard as a child. It was of course used in order to show that assigning importance to looks is superficial but I think that more often than not we were quite confused about the statement. Because if it was superficial and we generally should not care about it, why did we have to look good when we were visiting relatives?

Anyhow, ‘Beauty is only skin-deep’ was a saying that many liked to sing when we were growing up and, to be honest, I see it now as more damaging to children’s understanding and appreciation of beauty than helpful in building their characters. What I do not like about this saying is that it discredits beauty per se, it discredits the need for looking after it, it discredits the need for creating it and if said too often, it basically stops us from looking after the beauty that we are surrounded with and the beautiful people that we are.

Beauty requires effort. It takes work and purposeful, regular practice to create it. It also takes knowledge and dedication. I only truly understood this through my life experiences over the last few years: growing a child, making things for our house and garden, writing and photographing. What I have learnt is that beauty thrives with care and creativity and care and creativity entail effort. Creativity is effort, it’s seeing details, it’s being able to mould materials until they take the shape that we want them to take, it’s also about learning how beauty is made and about practice. It’s about spending time and often exerting ourselves to reach the outcome that we want to have, and finally it’s about tending to it regularly, taming it’s wildness. Beauty can be shallow but usually it is not. Usually beauty is work. It’s a lot of work nurtured with love and affection.

Shouldn’t we therefore teach our children that beauty should be respected rather than disparaged?

The more affection we have towards who we are, what is within us and what is around us, the more beautiful…

everything becomes.

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2 thoughts on “Beauty equals…

  1. Your post is expressed clearly and profoundly. I agree whole-heartedly. I also agree with the statement that real beauty in an individual is not about how (glamourous) they may be externally but the beauty of love, kindness, compassion and beauty which pours from ‘internally’. This is why so often in older folks or even the young and ill – as the external falls away the internal rises…It is in this that true BEAUTY can be seen. Nurture the beautiful in all your life and draw it out in the lives of others around. To instill a love of beauty in children is a Gift to bring forth the best in their humanity. Beautiful art, beauty in nature, music, – a focus on beauty can indeed protect the next generation from the pressure of the ‘supposedly clever stuff that is not Beauty). As a mother I chose to point our children always to the beautiful above all other endeavours.. It’S a joy to me now to see that in a world where everything either blows up in games and toys and pace of life is frenetic I have grandchildren who also can stop for a moment to look at a flower or find real beauty in the midst of the wood pile – ie a tiny tiny lizard with little yellow stripes. I saw pictures of this appear in what they later shared with their friends. Beauty is only shallow if it has no HEART DEPTH of endeavour and longing. Love your post.

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