Thursday, February 16, 2006

Conspiracy Theory

Every woman is beautiful. Or should be. It's not about sex. Not about desire. It's about grace and potential. But beauty is of a different order than prettiness. Pretty is genetic. Beauty is learned. A beautiful woman who carries herself poorly is not a beautiful woman. Yes, it is a bit of a paradox, but there you have it. Again, pretty is objective - her nose, her lips, the shape of her eyes. Beauty is subjective - it is an agreement: "I am beautiful." "Yes, you are."

Sophia Loren. Not pretty. Beautiful. Sorry if you disagree, but that's my opinion. Paris Hilton. Not pretty. Period. But I'm given to understand that some think otherwise.

It is an odd and slightly uncomfortable fact that across all races and cultures, the women who are considered loveliest are those with the most child-like features for that race. I won't follow the obvious digression. Rather, consider this: it is the children who are patterned after women, than otherwise. Why? Because children are annoying and burdensome, so they have the asset of attractiveness to make them bearable. Nothing sick and twisted, here - maturity understands about appropriate objects for desire. A pretty child calls out tenderness and the paternal / maternal instinct to protect. An unattractive child, less so. Am I wrong? Nobody adopts a warthog.

As for age, or rather aging, it is unattractive not for some evolutionary / breeding claptrap, but because it signifies actual decay. Wrinkles represent diminished function. Weakness and sickness are not attractive in men or in women. Barring those pathetic souls afflicted (or afflicting themselves) with Munchousen Syndrome, of course - their mutilations are not attractive, but they are attracted to it in themselves.

But this returns us to the idea of agreement, in beauty. Because I heard something once so wrenchingly beautiful that it could make me weep. It was in a discussion with some folks about age and aging. About how even in biblical times men would abandon their middle-aged wives, the wives of their youth, for some hot young chick - I quote the scripture from memory. And one of the fellas, a middle-aged man himself, said, "My wife has grown gray ... in loving me."

Let every mouth be stopped. Here is honor. Here is love. She was beautiful to him. And his love for her made him beautiful to me. So there's another layer, as to what beauty is. The joke goes beauty is skin deep, ugly to the bone. No. Pretty is skin deep. Both ugly and beauty are deeper than bone, and the direction isn't inward, but outward.

When I talk to someone who loves their country, there's something in me that wants to love their country too. Passion kindles passion. Shakespeare made me love England. When I see loyalty in someone, it engenders respect for them. And when I see a loving and unexpected devotion, I have to look again, look deeper - and I am always enriched for the effort.

My point? Consider the word enthusiasm. In its root, it means to be filled with God. The word inspire? Again, to be filled with the spirit. Conspire? To breathe, with one breath. It's about agreement, about showing what's inside, and recognizing it for what it is. And acting accordingly. It's a simple point, about looking a little deeper than the surface. Seems like a worthwhile thing to do.



Bill said...

"My wife has grown gray ... in loving me."

Who said this?

Jack H said...

Just a part of an annonymous conversation. It may strike a note of recognition from the words of Washington: "I have grown gray in the service of my country, and now it seems I am going blind."

Jack H said...

But good, isn't it.


Bill said...

Excellent sentiment.