Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Acceptance and Beauty

For some reason he hated his body. Red hair, lack of muscle definition, complexion -- he hated it all. In his late teens he was attracted to a male friend who seemed to exude beauty, confidence, peace and joy. The friend died in a car accident and he was left with a void in his life. After serving in the Navy and experiencing some homosexual encounters, he entered a monastery and spent many years searching for a sense of peace. After leaving the monastery, life began to change. He grew to like himself and his body. He married a nun and, finally, after more than fifty years, he was dancing because he knew life as joy, peace, happiness and acceptance. I read his experiences in his autobiography -- "Dance of a Fallen Monk" -- and felt a sense of sadness that so much of his life appeared to have been wasted searching for something that was always within his reach.

It's tragic that for some of us it takes many years to accept ourselves. We compare ourselves to others. We look in the mirror and see a flawed person who doesn't measure up to some unrealistic, idealized standard. I wonder why we compare ourselves to others? I wonder how we can teach children to accept and love themselves? I wonder if the monk's experience is typical? Do most of us take fifty years to accept ourselves?

I look at old photos of myself standing with other children and I'm amazed to see peas on a pod. I wasn't different, special or unique! I remember youth as a time of great discernment. She's three months and six days older than I am. He's stronger. She always dresses in style. He...she...they..., on and on.

I don't know when I lost that ability. Now, I find myself blundering along in life. "I need a new pair of shoes. I wonder what's in style? What are other men wearing? Julie, help!"

Life is definitely more enjoyable now that I accept who I am. I don't mind being bald or having five extra pounds. Give me hair and I wouldn't be any happier. Remove the few extra pounds and life wouldn't be more wonderful.

I can't remember when or how I gave up comparing myself to others but I'm glad I did. Life is much more beautiful now that I forget about myself and get caught up in the beauty around me. I look out and see beauty in nature. I look out and see people -- attractive people -- and wonder why they consider themselves unattractive. Are they blind?


Blogger Buffalo said...

I look at my physical self and don't like what I see - I never have.

I look at others that feel the same way about themselves and wonder what in the hell they are talking about.

Go figure.

12/21/2005 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew May said...

Perhaps it is possible we ( in general as a society )spend too much time thinking about physical beauty and miss the inner beauty which resides in many many people.

12/21/2005 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Another thoughtful seem to highlight things that I barely think about.. thank you.

12/21/2005 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Thanks for sharing the photos -interesting!

12/21/2005 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Still Searching... said...

I used to be that way. Not terribly unhappy, but unsatisfied by my body shape/type. Then one day, I figured out I had more important things to worry about, and hey, you can't fight genetics! :-) I'm so glad I figured it out, I was missing so much. Now I find satisfaction when I think of what myself, my body is capable of. Physically, I can do so much more than I thought I could, and that's a good thing.

12/21/2005 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Bonita said...

I'll admit, I'm always comparing...I have an identical twin. Everything she does seems to be wonderful, so I copy her. Learning 'self-definition' skills has only come recently, as I've learned to understand there is only one of "ME" here.

12/21/2005 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gaye said...

I think for the most part we fail to see ourselves the way others see us. In most cases we're probably harder on ourselves than others are on us. I know that I'm my worst critic--I don't need anyone else beating up on me; I do a fine job of that all by myself.

12/21/2005 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I am not overly concerned about these sorts of things, BUT while I know that having hair wouldn't make me happier, I would still like to have it.

12/26/2005 08:24:00 AM  

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