Friday, April 15, 2011

When beauty fades and flowers fall

As the cherry blossoms fall, I am touched by their beauty- the grace with which they swirl on the wind, the paleness of their color as they clump in streams and along the roadways, but most of all to see them take flight. The shock of the blossoms suddenly blooming is also beautiful, but now that I have watched them this past week, I like their fall more- the pale petals as they float and drift along; they catch your eye and sing of beauty.

Recently, friends have talked of hair removal, bikini waxes, eye brow plucking, eye lash enhancements, nails manicured, and other assorted beauty maintenance efforts; I am not inspired. Surely, it would be nice to have smooth hairless skin, but the time and effort it takes to get it do not appeal to me. Time is so hard to get to do things, to think things; I would rather spend my time starring at blossoms floating down a river. As I age, I am not so concerned with hanging onto something I never considered mine in the first place.

Efforts to maintain appearances are fodder for conversation in modern life- think of Cher. She looks great, really. I just saw an in-flight movie on the way to/from the States called Burlesque. She epitomizes beauty maintenance. There is a whole flock of female stars that have followed in her footsteps- Lady Gaga seems to be pushing it up a notch. I remember loving to watch the Sonny & Cher show as a kid- I wanted to see the costumes and the hair. I love opera too- costumes, passion, and those arias. Nonetheless, I am not motivated to do it myself, and this is glamour not beauty.

In his book, The Invisible Embrace of Beauty, John O'Donohue writes "When we devote some calm time to the heart and come off the treadmill of stress and distraction, we can enter into the beauty within." "Glamour .. has but a single flicker. In contrast, the Beautiful offers us an invitation to order, coherence, and unity. When these needs are met, the soul feels at home in the world."

Moving around in childhood, lacking roots in a community, I identify mostly with being an outsider. Living in Japan as a guijin reinforces this self image. I'd like to think I was a rebel as in a rebel doesn't have everything smoothed out, but has lots of frayed edges. I like edges; I think this is where it gets interesting which goes with being an outsider. Sometimes I wonder how long I will hold this image of myself. It has been around for a long while in my imagination regardless of it's veracity. I do things differently. As I have gotten older, I benefit from being comfortable in myself and in my ways even if they are contrary to the group. It is not about rebelling as much as just being another way. In American Psycho, the main character has a great line, "I just want to fit in!" I jokingly say this line, "I just want to fit in," especially because I never do, but I am happy to just be.

My daughter is quite social and little seems to dim her enthusiasm or confidence whether in English or in Japanese. I marvel at her and pray she will always be so. She is the only child in a school of six hundred with yellow hair, but she belongs there and let's words to the contrary pass by not hanging onto them, by not repeating them, but they are said. Character is built an act at a time. She will be stronger for ignoring the unkindness, the ignorance. I think of how in nature the rawest elements, organic matter, builds the healthiest flowers. I like that she negotiates this her own way.

Today the moose was interested in flowers on his walk to school. I am still tagging along in the mornings as he says he is not ready to walk alone. I think he just likes to chat in English. He is interested in the flowers because he wants to make potions for kuji magic with them. He came home with several flowers he had found along the way home. He said he had been thinking about making potions at school. He asked for a pot of hot water and stirred his flowers in it. He added his bottle of bath salts from upstairs. He was sure this concoction was going to make a good potion. He drank some of it even despite my motherly warnings. He said, "I forgot. Sometimes little kids forget things."

I'd like to know what lies within. It seems we barely scratch the surface of ourselves. I rarely hear anyone speak of it. It seems a disservice. Though I must confess at long last I have a friend that quotes literature and Shakespeare to me. Oh, it stirs my heart- all that beauty. If only we keep the pot brewing, the potion alive with beautiful things, perhaps then we can speak magic incantations like falling flowers that can stir a heart whether from a poem or Shakespeare, but, oh, please let me hear more of this.