You can Dress Me Up but You can’t Take Me Anywhere

I’m one of those people whose life has put me in circumstances and company well beyond my training and capabilities, let alone deserts. Meaning, I get to hang with the Cool Kids despite being a doofus, dork and/or nerd. Yes, I do know I’m out of my depth 99% of the time. I’m just incredibly lucky that others don’t seem to begrudge me the privilege. It’s amazing, really.digital illustrationI’ve gotten to taste recipes being beta-tested for an international cooking publisher’s latest cookbook, go bass fishing on a Texas ranch that predates statehood, been coached by a team from the US Secret Service, stage-managed the live broadcast of a major political figure’s keynote speech at a national convention, and had a photograph I shot featured on the cover of a multinational European magazine. I’ve spent a few days on a fully rigged tall ship, written thousands of poems, designed theatrical sets and costumes, and played on a cathedral carillon. Ice skated on a lake, dined with royalty, and sung in a quartet. Did I do all of this because I was specially qualified? Don’t be silly! What utter nonsense.

We all know that most of us Ordinary Folk find our way into any sort of distinguished company or notable situations only by stumbling into them or having them handed to (if not thrust upon) us. The truly remarkable thing is if and when we manage to rise to the occasion–or at least not fall down all over ourselves and our betters in the attempt. Me, I seem to find that quite often I’ve genuinely tried to prepare for the event so that I could almost fool some people that I look prepared, so perhaps it’s not entirely shocking that someone might tap me for the honor while under the misapprehension that I am prepared. Of course, there remains that delicately sad moment of revelation when I prove that it was in fact strictly an appearance and I am completely and absolutely not capable of anything spectacular, but fortunately for me that nearly always happens too late and I’ve already sneaked in on the honor.

I don’t know why I’m admitting all of this in front of you except that I’m not naturally a big liar, only incapable of recognizing my own limitations fully until I’m standing in that spotlight revealing them to all the world at the same second. Just consider yourselves politely forewarned that, no matter how well I might have polished up for the occasion, underneath it all still lurks the same cheerful incompetent, secretly knowing that I will be outed as such yet again but happy to be allowed into polite company in the meantime. Pipe down, Your Majesty, I’m enjoying my moment.

It’s Not Enough to be Beautiful

digital painting from a photoReally, 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.