Beauty is a topic that has so much stigma attached to it. For me, growing up, sweeping through the fashion magazines, I felt that what they said dictated what was considered beautiful, aesthetically, at least. As I have gotten older, and more confident in my own opinions, I no longer place so much value on the images shown to us in fashion and celebrity beauty trends. Due to many young women developing eating disorders, and our society being more open to accepting and dealing with this disease, a lot of the blame gets pressed upon “society’s ideal of what is attractive”. If you look at any magazines geared towards women, they are overflowing with beauty tricks, beauty tips, beautiful styles, and so on.
As I have grown and developed myself, and my identity, I have learned that for me, my definition of beauty has shifted. It used to be a Prada suede bag that would get me excited, or a Louise Vuitton. Now, a butterfly has a much more gratifying effect on my psyche. When I look at nature, is when I see beauty in it’s fullest potential. The beauty found in a rare shell, a sunset, waves crashing on the beach, wild flowers, or the extra blooms my lilac bush put off two months after its one big flowering, is the beauty that true, deep happiness is linked with. Noticing and appreciating these things requires one to slow down and live in the moment, “taking time to smell the flowers”. I think that is why dogs are used in therapy. Dogs really live in the moment, seemingly endlessly forgiving, and loving, despite being abandoned or worse, by those who are their care-takers.
When I connect with animals, I also get an amazing feeling , as if I have found a beautiful treasure. The love I see in the eyes of stray dogs we get, the rescues we take in from high-kill shelters down south. The love in those dogs eyes and hearts and souls, it glows and pulsates from within them like a bright sunstar shining out of them. The ability of a shelter dog to change your whole outlook on your life, especially if you have been feeling kinda down, or disconnected with yourself, is unmatched even by a free shopping spree at Bergdorfs. Not to say that retail therapy cannot work wonders, having just been in New york, I am not immune to the beautiful fashions created for sale. However, once the purchase is made, you are initially happy for a while, but eventually, if you are like me, you will realize that the brand of the purse you are carrying doesn’t matter much, and besides, if you use it too much you will wreck it with wear and tear. So you put it somewhere really safe, and then forget where you put it.
Beauty found in nature creates a different more long lasting high. It’s a happy feeling that you have discovered the truth of what is beautiful in the world. Keats wrote, “Beauty is truth and truth beauty, – that is all” and there is truth in his words. More and more often I find myself saying to myself, “it’s the little things that make the most difference”, and are the most important. A lot of the little things are things we take for granted. When I walk outside, and a butterfly flutters by, it makes me feel like all is right with world. The more you open yourself up to the beauty of the universe, the greater your appreciation becomes for the things that are free. The scent of summer flowers, while driving with the windows down, or the ability to drive to the beach and jump in the ocean and float…these are the things that matter, and that make us happy. A cool breeze on a summer day, the sun shining, the birds singing, it sounds so cliche, and it can be hard to connect with when you are constantly surrounded by people who value more material things.
My closest friends are people that feel the same deep connection to the ocean that I do, or the same deep sensitivity to animals. Our values are simple and alike, and I have surrounded myself with these types of people, through process of elimination. They are in tune with the same earth’s energies that I am in tune with. Our values are the same. Beauty is not a bad word, unless used to describe false, superficial ideals.