Having “beauty” as one of the main topics that this blog covers was a difficult choice. Usually, when a lifestyle blog covers beauty, the subjects are makeup and hair, fashion and accessories. What shoes to wear with that dress, what lipstick to pair with those earrings. The posts usually include photos of beautiful women with gorgeous hair and flawless skin. Or even the blog author herself, looking amazing in a casually-thrown-together outfit, photographed in perfect light.
I know nothing about these things.
I’m interested in a more expansive, generous idea of beauty, one that builds us up and allows us to find inspiration and joy in the world, rather than comparison and insecurity.
A few days ago I listened to a numinous conversation between John O’Donohue, the late Irish poet and philosopher, and Krista Tippett, which aired on the podcast On Being. Early in the conversation, O’Donohue says, “…one of the huge confusions in our times is to mistake glamour for beauty.” Later, Tippett asks him to expend on that and he answers:
When I think of the word “beauty,” some of the faces of those that I love come into my mind. When I think of beauty I also think of beautiful landscapes that I know. Then I think of acts of such lovely kindness that have been done to me, by people that cared for me, in bleak unsheltered times or when I needed to be loved and minded. I also think of those unknown people who are the real heroes for me, who you never hear about, who hold out on lines — on frontiers of awful want and awful situations and manage somehow to go beyond the given impoverishment and offer gifts of possibility and imagination and seeing. I also think … of music. I love music…. I love poetry as well, of course, and I think of beauty in poetry.
The beauty that I find most compelling and relevant in my life is the beauty of the natural world, the beauty of poetry, the beauty of friendship, the beauty of taking care of each other, the beauty of a well-shaped bowl. I’m not as interested in shaping my face to meet exterior standards of beauty as I am in arranging my life to look at and participate in beautiful places, conversations, experiences, and things.
So this topic, beauty, on this blog, will shape itself differently than you might expect (that’s not to say I will never post about a beautiful sweater or a beautiful person). I invite you to help me shape it. What unexpected things, people, and places do you find beautiful? What has helped you to articulate your own version of beauty? How does beauty inform your life? Please share, I’d love to know.