If beauty was based solely on your inward qualities, how beautiful would you be? Serious question, here. I think it depends wholly on your level of self-worth. I also think the answer changes over the course of your life.
For example: In early childhood, we would, of course, be cute and charming, and our physical selves would reflect that. Because children have an innocence about them that make them shine brightly. I see it in my niece Aliza when she asks me if she can do something. It’s inconceivable to her that I might say no. And when I do say no (which is rare, because I am, of course, wrapped around her little finger – wouldn’t have it any other way), she wants to know why. Of course, she doesn’t understand the answer, because it is too big for her to grasp. The other day, I had a piece of taffy that I was unwrapping, and she stopped in her tracks when she saw me.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“Candy,” I replied.
Her face lit up. “I want some candy,” she said. (Never mind the fact that she had just been to a high school basketball game and had Skittles.)
As usual, I couldn’t say no. So I gave her just a little piece. She was happy. It takes so little to make her happy now. Soon – sooner than I’d like – it will become harder and harder. Right now, she wears all of her inner beauty on the outside, holds it up like a candle for all to see. As she grows, it will spread to her insides. She is like a flower bud right now, not quite ready to bloom. But bloom she will. It is like a seed within her, one that blooms from the outside and works its way slowly inside.
And for another example: When we grow up and begin our adult lives, it is often difficult to see other people’s inner beauty unless we really look at them – really look into their eyes and search for what we know is there. It becomes harder to trust strangers because we’ve often been hurt before and we know that people have the power to hurt us. But what most people don’t get is that they willingly gave themselves up – gave the other people the power to hurt them. Everybody has the power to hurt the people they love. And they do hurt them, at one time or another. And it’s okay. People are human. They’re not perfect. Of course they are going to make mistakes, often the same ones over and over. But we learn too. Life is a learning process, yes? How would we know what to do if we never tried anything? If we never tested the waters, how would we know what is right and what is wrong?
And another: We can see beauty in an elderly person’s grateful smile. In the way their eyes lit up when we visit them. In the way they whisper our names and, with trembling hands, reach for ours. It’s a shame, really, how quickly we are to dump them in a convalescent home. What if we took the time to listen to them, to what they want? I think most of these people do not want to be a burden, so they quietly go along with whatever’s been decided for them. And sadly, most elderly people aren’t given a choice. Their children are busy with their own families. But what better way to thank someone who raised you, taught you, wiped your tears, and kissed your boo-boos (yes, I really did just say that), than listening to what they want the end of their lives to be like? Nobody really likes to be dumped anywhere. Think of what it must do to people’s sense of self. And just think of your first summer of camp if you don’t believe me. People get homesick. And in most cases, elderly people get homesick for the people they love the most. Granted, sometimes we don’t have a choice. Sometimes the needs are greater than what we are able to give. But when we do have a choice, it is best to consider ALL options.
So, I guess the message of this post is – let the people in your life shine. If they need it, reach out a hand to help. Always be kind. Kindness makes people beautiful. Always remember that.