Photo: Petr Kratochvil
Today's post is inspired by two bloggers I "met" just today through another favorite blog, No Meat Athlete. Thanks to Mara at Medicinal Marzipan for her post on beauty, as well as for leading me to Val of Balancing Val. It was Val who threw down the gauntlet, challenging fellow bloggers to write about beauty. Thanks Matt, Mara and Val.
One of my nearest and dearest is a horticulturist and garden designer. Ronda, I beg your forgiveness for using dandelions to adorn my posts two weeks in a row. (Dandelions never fit into any of Ronda's formal designs!)
We don't usually think of dandelions as being beautiful. Gardeners and anyone who aspires to a lawn that is make-the-neighbors-jealous perfect spend a lot of time and effort trying to rid themselves of dandelions. They are "common." They are "weeds." Having spent some time clearing them from my own garden plot, I don't quite understand how it's possible not to have a grudging respect for them. Dandelions are capable of blooming even if they have to push through solid rock to do so. (As the flowers above managed to do.) And that is precisely why I chose the photo above for this post.
Dandelions embody so much of what I associate with true beauty. They are committed to pushing through and doing what they came here to do. No. Matter. What. They build root systems that are stupefying in their complexity and strength, they shoot out leaves to seek the sun, then produce flowers that look a little like a sunburst on a stalk. Finally, they allow themselves to be delicate. (As in the photo below, coincidentally. I promise, this is not my Dandelion Series.) They produce a soft puff of seeds so Dr.-Seuss-perfect that small children can't resist plucking them and blowing gently to scatter the seeds.
Maybe by now you already are getting the idea that I'm not very interested in the kind of beauty that Hollywood and Madison Avenue shove down our throats as though we were so many geese on a foie gras farm. I'm interested in beauty that is raw and real. Ever seen a woman give birth? There is blood and sweat and, often, screaming. But watching a baby come into the world is one of the most beautiful things I've ever witnessed; it's the only time I was so moved I wept without even realizing I was doing so.
People are beautiful -- insanely, painfully, hold-them-in-your-heart-and-don't-let-them-go beautiful -- when life has kicked the shit out of them. And they get up. And they move forward. With whatever dignity they can muster. With whatever strength they have remaining. You cannot get that kind of beauty from a mascara wand and it has no correlation to the circumference of your thighs.
If you've read this far, I'll bet you've got it already. Here's to dandelions and doing what we came here to do. No. Matter. What. Here's to walking in beauty.