The Vulnerability of Beauty
The beautiful California coast is disappearing, The Los Angeles Times wrote yesterday. The beautiful, sandy beaches are giving way to retaining walls tucked up close to property lines trying to keep the ocean out of homes built on sand. Even the bluffs, with their towering beauty are coming down, along with some of the homes and apartments. Private homes, scenic Highway 1, the railroad, and business are all in danger.
The 1970's scientists warned the homes built on the bluff would destabilize it. Common sense said don't build a house on sand. Environmentalists warned of environmental dangers. All people heard was the pleasing sound of waves pounding the shore as their eyes feasted on the panoramic views and they parted with bundles of money.
It's not unlike us, feasting our eyes on beauty and trying to own it in the way we look, either by creating it if we feel we don't have it or bolstering it if we think we have some.
Beauty is power. It commands attention. It can be used to reach a goal, sway someone's opinion/decision. We can want to look and look. We want to fill ourselves with it. We believe and are told it makes life better, so we want to possess it.
But can we? Can we posses beauty? Don't even "the beautiful" have bad hair days? Aren't we all ageing - in a culture that dismisses age? Various plastic surgeries carry health concerns?
How we handle beauty seems to matter. Whether it is personal or in nature. Wrongly building our lives on it seems to reveal fault lines at some point. It is about learning how to steward it.
Recognize Beauty is Fragile
Beauty, while powerful, is also fragile. It can be damaged. It can fade. It can be used and abused.
Think of a sunset, a flower, pale skin in the sun all day without sunscreen. Think of a moment with someone special, or an event that took your breath away. We pass through it and move on.
There is a certain respect we need to have towards beauty. Research shows the people who manage beauty the best are those who think of it as an element of themselves. It's not everything. But it is something and disrespecting it can end it.
We need to keep boundaries around it so that we manage it well, with wisdom, and to neither make it everything nor disregard it's fragility. We can't be selfish with it, grabbing for it without realizing what will happen if we wrongly do. We can't make it all ours or all of who we are. If we don't heed to warnings. we will face the consequences.
So, try for a healthy barrel of respect towards what it is and what it is not. Don't use it and don't let the beauty you have be used.
Karen Cook Counselling & Therapeutic Life Coaching
Eating Disorders and Women's Issues Specialist
This is your season to learn, grow, and develop a full and deeply satisfying life.