The measure of a human is not in her wealth, or success, or any of those worldly attainments to which we so happily ascribe great value in the popular realm, but in her simplicity. So much can be accomplished by the reduction of focus on unimportant things, the removal of distractions, and reverence for the smaller and more ephemeral stuff. This, this is how we shine.
Among the many ways we find our way through the world, ways we make sense out of what we experience, and navigate through life, there’s what we can see and feel on the surface of things. It’s easy to speak disparagingly of these things that are shallow as inherently lacking in spiritual depth or value, too, but that’s an unfair assessment to attach automatically to everything.
In practice, it takes but little tactile variation on surfaces to warn us, for example, not to grab nutmeg graters and 60-grit sandpaper hard in the soft palms of our hands, or expect to get a grip on a slippery fish without difficulty. Even the simplest human, once taught to recognize it, respects the distinctive visual patterns on a Diamondback rattlesnake from a safe distance. Conversely, we learn quickly enough the appeal of what we can recognize as soft, dense fur and sleek satin that invite our touch, and admire the enchanting graces brought to a garment by lace, to an elegant chair or door by skillful carving.
What we see and what we feel teach us how to interact with and respond to our environs. It’s not always a bad thing to need to rely on even snap judgements about things based on their surfaces. That, after all, is where an enormous amount of the beauty, utility and comfort that attracts us to them in the first place resides.
Really, the stuff that lies inside is what matters, what always mattered. Wit, integrity, talent. Compassion, charm. Power and intelligence and courage and humor. The things that last go far beyond the mere physical and visible attractions that we, individually and collectively, consider beautiful. It’s more difficult to find and gauge inner beauty, and far more so to develop it, so no wonder we hunt for it and we treasure it so highly. Still, it’s funny that we do. We love, after all, what looks beautiful to us very, very deeply as well. And beauty for its own sake is not a bad thing, either.
Is one morally or inherently better than another? Certainly not. Are they mutually exclusive? Hardly. But it’s true all the same that visible beauty has its perks. We often don’t have to know anything about each other for us to want to be associated Beautiful people, to be around them and admire them, if only for how much we like the way they look. And they in turn, both those with the inner resources that we admire and those who might be closer to pretty, empty packages with nothing fabulous inside, get attention and get things done, their way sometimes greased by the access and support that their prettiness gets them. If it’s possible to have both the outer and the inner, that could hardly be objectionable, but if I had to choose, some days I suspect I would be quite content to be the beautiful one in the room; it’d be fun just to see what it’s like, I imagine. Might not be a Greta Garbo, with both the looks and the evidently impressive inner life, but even being a cheap imitation of the exquisite woman for sheer looks wouldn’t be too awful, I’d think. All I can say is that it really isn’t enough to be beautiful–but it’s not exactly such a bad thing either, is it, now?
All right, I’m only enjoying my little fantasy. My partner, husband, best friend and spouse tells me I’m pretty, I’m beautiful, and I’m full of all those dandy aforementioned inner resources too. And whether it’s flattery or his perception of the truth, I don’t much care. It’s more than enough to feel beautiful. Glamorous I may not be, and in fact I might not even be any of those other lovely things my guy tells me I am, but he’s pretty convincing, that fella of mine, and his word–with his impressive daily love backing it all up–is plenty for me. Any day of the year.