Welcome to the future.

Beauty, Interrupted: Exercises in Futility, Grace and Growing Old

BeautyInterrupted

I have been drawn to beauty since birth.

By beauty, I am referring to all things, people, ideas, religions, and philosophies that awaken. By awaken, I am referring to the awakening of consciousness; I am referring to the feeling of being alive; to those all-encompassing, sometimes frightening, consciousness-expanding moments when life as we know it, feels right. And by right, I mean the experience of a heart at peace.

Popular culture usually – if not almost always – misses the mark when it comes to beauty. We are exhorted to be thin, well-groomed, tan; to maintain a photoshopped appearance that leaves many – myself included – rushing to the mirror at the first sign of wrinkles, dimpled or sagging skin, and unruly eyebrows. When did we become so fearful of growing old? Why isn’t age synonymous with wisdom, patience, and life experience? We need to rethink our definition of beauty. Wrinkles around your eyes should be reminders of hours spent laughing and time spent soaking up sunshine. Forehead creases should be equated with deep thought and reflection. Frown lines: important reminders that we’ve struggled and cried; and that we understand that life is about letting the world in, not shutting it out.

If the search for beauty on the outside is not accompanied by a search for beauty on the inside, the quest for “beauty” – as defined by mass/popular media – is dangerously superficial. We are deluded into thinking that changes to our physical appearances alone will make us happy; that our longings for wholeness will be satiated by a larger bust, thinner thighs and an ageless appearance.

Beauty may exist superficially, but is it lasting? Is it alive and arresting? Does it inspire beauty in others? Successful trends must also be rooted in this kind of “awakened” beauty – beauty that is piercing, poignant, heart-enlivening, soul-stirring, peaceful, and provocative. When we encounter “awakened beauty,” we encounter ourselves. When trends gain traction in the collective imagination, it is because they have touched upon something archetypal, some unrecognized or insufficiently acknowledged aspect of our humanity.

There’s no need to ditch make-up, lotion or anti-aging serums. If looking “well-groomed” makes you feel good, by all means, keep it up. But keep up these routines for the right reasons. Exercise because you’d like to stay healthy, not because society dictates the circumference of your waist. There’s no harm in wanting to age gracefully, but be warned of rejecting your expression lines for want of a line-less complexion that looks plastic, even robotic. If you devote an hour a day to beauty routines, devote equal time to enhancing inner beauty – whether through journal writing, reading, meditation, positive self-talk or sharing with and listening to friends.

In my experience, true beauty appears when the person on the inside is visible on the outside.