Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Beauty Redux

I’m listening to Wagner’s overture to Tannheuser as I write, and as always, the section where the shimmering violins cascade over the granite of the brass clutches my chest so tightly my eyes mist over from the sheer power and beauty of it.

I am often overcome by visual and aural beauty…if seldom to the point of tears, very often to the point of a physical pressure in my chest. That I’ve always been an incurable romantic and spend so much of my time in fantasy probably doesn’t help. Beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder, and I tend to behold it from several different angles at once. Beauty is anything I admire, or envy, or aspire to having or being, and is most often accompanied by the truly physical ache of realization that no matter how badly I might want it, I can never have it.

Beauty exists in lost things: in perspectives of the past only time can bring. Past experiences, relationships, never fully appreciated as they are being experienced, show their true beauty only in reflection. And for me there is sadness in the realization that they are indeed gone and will never return except in memory. That I can treasure them there gives me comfort rather like watching the video of a yule log on TV…it’s beautiful, but the warmth of immediacy is missing.

Being male, I don’t think it is the least bit surprising that one of the cornerstones of my being gay is my longing for the physical beauty and attributes I see in other men. I think this is a situation unique to gay men...I can't imagine it existing as a factor in heterosexual men's attraction to women.

I've mentioned before, in this regard, that before I was aged out of active participation in the "courtship"--a euphemism for which you can provide the appropriate word--aspect of the community, to meet and go home with someone to whom I was attracted was an exhilarating form of validation: that someone I considered beautiful might actually think I was attractive, too!

That our society is fixated on exterior physical beauty--and youth, which is its pre-requisite--to the point where we are bombarded by it and its inescapable message that if you yourself are not young and beautiful, you are inferior to those who are. People considered physically unattractive go through life bearing terrible burdens, not only emotional in knowing and constantly being reminded from without and within that they are lesser beings, but practically: "unattractive" people are less likely to be hired or selected in any process involving choosing one person over another. It is terribly sad and infinitely unfair, but it is a fact.

Beauty is absorbed into the human soul much like a sponge absorbs water, and comes in several forms, primary among which are sight and sound. The deaf are deprived of the beauty of the human voice and the wide variety of instruments mankind has created to produce various pleasing sound, probably best encompassed in symphony orchestras. So while the deaf cannot hear, they are subject to the same preconceptions of physical beauty as the rest of the population. But it is the blind, because they are not distracted by physical appearance, who can often far more clearly recognize and relate to the beauty of the soul rather than of the body.

True beauty exists not only in the eye of the beholder, but the mind, and just about everything is considered beautiful to someone. Because we are surrounded by so much beauty, we often do not see it, and it is often the subtle beauty, which must be given time to contemplate, which is the most rewarding. An autumn leaf upon the wet pebbles on a beach can be every bit as beautiful as any painting in a museum. All we have to do is focus our vision to be able to fully appreciate it.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, the recently-released Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs ( ).

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