Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.
– Eleanor Roosevelt
As a culture we place so much emphasis on appearances. And in some way that is important. You only have once chance at first impressions. But it is also true that “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.” So in today’s world, how do we shift to seeing the inner beauty? The works of art shaped and painted over the course of a lifetime.
Do we value the qualities that make make someone truly beautiful? They say that “beauty is skin deep.” Sometimes this is true, sometimes not. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” another of those descriptive sayings that we use often, but often don’t think about the meaning.
I like what I think Eleanor is getting at. Masterpieces take time to create. They are timeless and they are priceless. While gray hair and grooves don’t make us masterpieces in and of themselves, they represent the passage of time and the opportunity to experience life, to have faced the many opportunities that allow us to grow and mature. It is the metamorphosis that only time and a full life can bestow upon us.
Beauty on the other hand, has traditionally been an accident of birth and more recently, for sale by the plastic surgeon. Now don’t get me wrong, I like beauty. I married a beautiful person, and here is the important part, while she is not old enough to qualify as a masterpiece, the brushwork is there. Everyday we have the opportunity to add a few strokes here, mix some pigment differently for over there. The question is, do you? Do you experience and live your life in ways that enrich others? Or just yourself?
Do you take the time to evaluate that canvas? Do you hand the brush to another and trust them to make their mark on your canvas? I think that having children, has a way of accelerating the masterpiece process. Not for all, and for some not ever, and it’s also not the only route. But you have to let life happen. Acceptance is key. When I say acceptance, I don’t mean roll over and take it. I mean that there are things that we can change and things that we cannot. Knowing the difference and accepting that, is what serenity is all about. You have too achieve some semblance of letting go, particularly on the little things. And so much of what we cling to are little things.
It’s the same in the day to day hustle and grind. We often place too much emphasis on instant gratification, and the latest fad or trends rather than the effort required to build the foundation for a life that transcends our far too short attention span. I always loved this quote form The Lion King, “Simba, you are more than you have become.” This is unfortunately true at an ever increasing rate. There are fewer and fewer people putting the effort into developing that “work of art”, we have become a society focused on beauty and beauty at all costs. But we really are more than we have become.
Will you choose to paint your future? or, find someone else who promises to do it for you?
What could you if you could? – You can!