In every man’s heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty.” -Christopher Morley
Beauty is one of the essential graces of living a human life on earth. Beauty is around us everywhere and entraining our own capacity to notice and recognize its presence and its power to transform us begins in our heart. Culturally, we are constantly being mis-directed to a specific, and arguably, limited type of beauty, which parades as fashion in youthful perfect silhouettes, airbrushed wide-eyed models with chiseled features and long wavy flows of hair. This commercial beauty is the kind that drives us either to despairing feelings of not measuring up or seduces us into buying this one more thing that will bring us closer to that exclusive experience of beauty. Yet, most people when asked about where they witness beauty rarely mention Glamour’s cover of the month. Instead, what we hear is about how the evening light transforms the trees in their yard, or how the scent of fresh bread wafted around a corner or the remarkable rose light that canvases the skyline before dark.
More overcoming even than the wonders of the natural world is the beauty that flows through authentic human connection. It is easy to well up as we bear witness to simple kindnesses exchanged between strangers, the wide-eyed innocence of children in poverty ravaged countries offering a flower to a tourist, the adoring smile exchanged between a human and his dog, and teenagers who steal a kiss before the subway door closes. James Hillman wisely wrote, “We have a moral obligation to restore beauty to a place of centrality in daily life.” The effort required is really only one of attention, not creation. It is just in witnessing the beauty before us, that we awaken both acceptance and gratitude. Beauty graces us as it teaches us that in letting things be as they are, we appreciate life as it is.
Perhaps one of the most profound yet often overlooked connections that beauty offers is a gateway to our erotic selves. Beauty, eroticism and the visceral experience of pleasure are all intertwined and as we open ourselves to the deep sensory experience of the varied and vast pleasures our bodies can hold, beauty awakens a libido for life, showing us the way to our innate eroticism. Consider the tasting of a perfectly ripe pear, or the smooth, crisp feel of clean sheets as you slip into your bed, the instant relaxation of submerging into a tub of scented hot water, the soft breeze stirring your hair on a hot summer evening, or the first taste of dripping honeycomb, or a fine red pinot. The list of how our body lives in the sensuous, taking in pleasure and enjoyment is endless. Beauty experienced through taste, scent and touch is the sensuous springboard into the adventures of living an erotic life.
Living deeply in the body is one of the simplest, yet most direct experiences of self-love and a reliable pathway to be physically and sensuously loved by someone else. Anna Freud once wrote, “Sex is something you do, sexuality is something you are.” We are sensuous and sexual beings whether we ever have sex or not. It is an energy that lives in us and can be recognized in the way we experience the world through our senses. Living with beauty in mind is a profound entrance into this sensory relationship with the world…