on beauty

when Reachel first emailed me about this lovely series she posed a question that i loosely translated to what makes you feel beautiful? and then quickly mis-remembered as what make you feel sexiest?

(there's some kind of insight into my core right there).

the question could not have come at a better time. (precisely because i was feeling anything but).

beauty is a funny thing, isn't it? a fickle mistress. what i've come to understand is that feeling you're beautiful and knowing you're beautiful are entirely different things. and i'd take the feeling any day of the week, because the feeling--that inner spark--well, that informs everything.

so i took Reachel's question and i went for a jog (literally). and as my feet pounded away at the pavement, and the hudson river rolled past on my left, i made a list. and that list made one thing very clear: i feel most beautiful when i am most myself (which as it turns out is also when i feel sexiest--for me there is no difference between the two), when i am fully engaged in this chaotic and turbulent and wholly exciting world we live in.

what does that mean?

feeling pretty

well, it means i feel most beautiful when i'm laughing really hard. out loud. and even more so when i'm telling a good joke or a good story--watching the eyes of the people i love crinkle in response to something i've said? heaven. few things trump that.

i feel most beautiful while eating a green apple, after an impossible exercise class, with my hair pulled into a high, messy bun, as i traipse about lower manhattan giving thanks for a body that moves and runs and spins--holy heck is the body a miraculous thing!

or when listening to good music. or waiting for the subway with a good book in hand. reading and understanding and reveling in a poem that three years ago made no sense to me (walt whitman's "song of the open road"). watching the rain move in over chicago as portugal. the man plays "so american". standing arms and mouth open to welcome said rain. imbibing a hot drink on a cold day. a walk through central park on a cool morning. furtively glancing at the guy at the end of the bar and then catching him mid-stare. or a nod from the bass player from that one alaskan band i so love.

doing something, anything, that a year ago i couldn't (or rather, was too afraid) to do. heading into the belly of the beast of fear and coming out the other end makes me feel beautiful in a way that nothing (and i do mean nothing) can touch.

what i look like will change with time. my weight will fluctuate. the lines on my forehead will crease. the gray hairs will take hold and multiply. but my mind, my intelligence, the light behind my eyes--that (God willing) will remain. more than that (again, God willing) it will grow and burgeon. it is my belief that my intelligence and my desire to live life fully--to live imperfectly but honestly, makes me wholly myself.  and the more i can align myself with my value system, the more i balance on the axis of who i am--the more i know what i want and what i believe in, the more beautiful i feel.

and there, on that axis, perched atop it all--balancing on the bounties of this life (both good and bad) well, then, from there, the opinions of others regarding what i look like will matter only with my consent. it will be how i feel from within my body--inside the sweet-spot of life that will dictate my response. i won't need a mirror or a scale or any of the trappings to provide me with what i've somehow always known but often doubted: that i am, in fact, yes, beautiful.