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beauty, to me.

by Yael Alkalay

 Someone whose opinion i respect, recently asked me a loaded question;

 

“what does beauty

mean to you?”
beauty of course is an enigma, an indefinable topic, a highly personal point of view that exists in a field of possibilities that range from absolute mundane to deeply profound. I immediately began assembling a short list in my mind of how I define beauty...survival, happiness, truth, health, self-expression, strength, power, belief, faith, attitude, style, sensuality, desire, virtue, attraction, love, nature, childhood, life, artifice, symmetry, grace, transformation, image, in the eye of the beholder, passion, celebration...i hold onto the potential of all these words as part of a deeper connection to the resonance of beauty.
"All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was."
-- Toni Morrison, Beloved

to me, beauty is a way of living life. bringing the whole self to every moment. a multi-dimensional, multi-sensual existence where everything is appreciated. beauty is a way of living life more fully, a way of seeing and feeling, letting go and believing. for me, beauty starts with a bath. a primal act of self-care that brings health and purification to the whole body. it’s important to make space in a full-day cycle to draw a hot bath, or experience a shower under steaming water -- the sensation of warmth and water on the skin, the rhythmic sound of water, the quiet of washing skin, and the clean softness that comes from scrubbing. dim the lights and add a sweet scent of a candle flickering, anointing the body with warm oil, pause, listen, and relax -- find the purity that is residing momentarily in the senses, this is beauty. bathing is a ritual that evolves, it can electrify and inspire.

 

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”
-- Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

i believe that elevating the basics can transform a whole life, invigorate potential, power longevity, inspire happiness, and invite love.

 

“What we seek, at the deepest level, is inwardly to resemble, rather than physically to possess, the objects and places that touch us through their beauty.”
-- Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness

i believe that the process of finding and seeing one’s own beauty evolve can be terrifying, but it must be relevant, empowering, beautiful and fierce. behold me, i am here.

 

 

the things we admire make us beautiful. nature really does have it all. from the unfurling of a flower to the composition of waves, to the vast expanse of our senses, color, and light -- breathe it in, cover your being in it, be in its presence.

the objects that surround us make us beautiful.
preparing a cup of tea in the morning sunrise, the cup that fits perfectly with its warm clay walls against the palm of your hands ...
the people in our lives make us beautiful.
i grew up surrounded by people who love life, musicians expressing themselves in ways that words couldn’t, and farmers who understood the sky, the soil, and all its power. people of gusto and love showed me that living is beautiful and living fully, is extraordinary. my grandfather, who had lived as a child in the argentinian pampas, turned his face towards the buenos aires rain on his last day of life, asking of those who cared for him, “please, let me feel the cool, wet drops on my face this one more time”. to me, this expresses the essence of beauty -- to be fully in the life you are in, to smell and feel the rain, to be open in the moment and absorb it. it becomes a part of you, the infinite subtlety of seeing, feeling, tasting, hearing, touching, seeking and sharing, and gives us a reason to be.
the habits we transform into rituals make us beautiful.
that is what beauty means to me, i am comfortable with knowing that having a beauty ritual is important - taking care of oneself is both self respect and deeply pleasurable, taking the time to rethink the small things that we do for ourselves and to make them more present makes life abundant and beautiful. drinking water, washing the body, running as fast as you can, walking slowly, falling into a deep sleep, even the potent touch of artifice, being open to transformation when the occasion requires, brings invigoration to everything. try.
“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.”

-- Thich Nhat Hạnh
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