It’s hard for me to admit this out loud, but here it is: I’m terribly vain. Not in the usual sense of the word. I mean I am preoccupied with my appearance and with others’ perception of me, but I tend to see and expect the worst of myself. And I hate it. I hate that I even care what I look like, that I actually get depressed that I don’t look like Gwyneth Paltrow or Angelina Jolie or whatever impossible standard of physical attractiveness the media are currently obsessed with. Shouldn’t it be enough that I’m decently healthy, that I have a husband and family and friends that I love, a job that I enjoy, a nice place to live, and that people keep writing great books for me to read? Do I really have to be conventionally pretty, too, to call myself happy?
Sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder that there really is more than one definition of beauty. So here’s “Saint Francis and the Sow” by Galway Kinnell:
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
The lovely Susan Taylor Brown is on Poetry Friday Round-Up duty this week at her blog, Susan Writes. Enjoy some true beauty over there.