Sunday Best – September 10, 2017

One of the huge confusions in our times is to mistake glamour for beauty.

– John O’Donohue, in conversation with Krista Tippett

 

I was inspired (as is often the case) when listening to a recent OnBeing podcast that revisited an extended conversation between journalist Krista Tippett and poet John O’Donohue. This passage on beauty especially struck me, and to my delight I heard Tippett herself reference it at the terrific¬†Women Moving Millions summit this weekend.

If indeed we do feel more alive in the presence of great beauty, I’d argue that glamour usually has the opposite effect. When you stand on a mountaintop, or in front of a great painting, or in the presence of a newborn baby, there’s often a feeling of immensity, and of your connection to that grandness. Enormity. Vitality.

When faced with airbrushed ads, or glittery small talk, or certain forms of soul-less fashion, the effect is not at all grand: there’s a seductive, entertaining element, but instead of that joyful vastness underneath, there’s an undertow of anxious not-enough-ness. Smallness. Blankness.

Glamour is quick to pull is in, but beauty takes a while. ¬†It’s usually hidden behind some effort: you have to climb the mountain or have the long conversation or set down everything else to focus on the music, and only then is the beauty – sometimes – revealed.

This week I also visited the September 11 memorial for the first time. In the middle of the plaza, there is a pear tree that miraculously survived 2001. It is wizened and charred near the base, and the new growth is a little awkward and lumpy and misshapen.

But oh, this tree. It is so beautiful.

Dear Honeybees, let’s fill this week not with the blinding dazzle of glamour, but with the steady glow of beauty.

 

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