Embracing beauty

“Let us decide on the route that we wish to take to pass our life, and attempt to sow that route with flowers.”

-Madame du Chatelet

For so long, my whole life really, I’ve felt that beauty was a frivolous concept. Sure, I’ve fallen into the hair-and-makeup crowd on more than one occasion, and I used to have a closet full of pretty clothes. My apartment pre-children was lovely. But beauty was never something I made a priority. Not something I went out of my way to attain.

It is only now, in the middle of my life, that I realize how foolish I have been.

Years ago, I was crying to a coworker about a problem I was having, and she said, “But you’re so pretty!” Never has there been a bigger disconnect between the issue at hand and the response I received. What the hell did being pretty have to do with it? Pretty doesn’t fix anything.

But I went to the opposite extreme in my efforts to streamline my life and maximize productivity. No makeup and a uniform-like wardrobe. It took me 5 years to put a photo on my desk at work. I prized function over appearance in all things.

What a dreary existence.

Beauty may not have any practical purpose, true. But it makes the heart sing, the load lighter. A flower in a vase – or in your hair. A pretty ring. A sunny day. A melody. A fragrant cup of tea. None of these things get my work done, my bills paid, dinner on the table. But they make the work more pleasant.

Everyone responds to beauty. My infant son, my young daughter, their father, my aging parents. Me. No one is immune. Beauty lifts up everyone’s spirits.

If that’s not important, I don’t know what is.

I’d visited the Dixon Gardens years ago, but hadn’t been back until recently. Because I’d already seen it – what was the point? But strolling through the fragrant, peaceful shade with my children, I realized what I’d been cheating myself out of: Quiet beauty.

I need more quiet beauty in my life. It’s why I meditate. Why I pursue a daily yoga practice. Silence, Robert Fulghum said, is an integral part of music. Just like beauty is an integral part of life.

So I am making a point to seek out beauty everywhere. Create beauty where there is none. And savor it where I find it.

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