Do I love you because you’re beautiful?
Or are you beautiful because I love you?
One of the things I love about technology is being able to recapture elements of my young life that affected me, like the music. One night I listened to, watched and enjoyed Johnny Mathis on my iPhone until dawn. I recalled that, as a young girl, I heard his romantic verses as they resonated down the long hall from my dad’s record player. The aforementioned two lines have remained in my psyche because of this latent truism: Is my loved one beautiful or is she beautiful because I love her?
Perhaps the lines resonate with the old adage that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” Admittedly, there is a high price placed on physical beauty in our culture, and in gay life, in particular. I recall seeing a film, shown as an introduction to my undergraduate studies, which accented the effects that “good” looks have on a person’s ability to advance in a career. It postulated that persons endowed with good looks were more likely to be employed and to advance in their work lives. I have to admit that when I watched the movie, I was a wee bit appalled by the subtle, yet harsh, truth of the implication that how one looks could, in fact, impact one’s life and its trajectory.
Over the years, I’ve become acculturated to peer beneath the surface for qualities that define inner beauty, like kindness, compassion, generosity, sincerity, warmth, and good humor. These qualities affect the heart that is, after all, where true beauty resides. A Buddhist saying attests to this axiom when it states that the most important pursuit in life is not treasures of the storehouse or material possessions nor treasures of the body—physical attributes—but treasures of the heart.
Our capacity for love matters, as does mutual respect and consideration. Cultivating love broadens our appreciation for others as well as for ourselves. The experience of love brings out our own inner beauty.
One interesting observation that I’ve made is that laughing together makes everyone look attractive. Radiant smiles, sparkling eyes, and belly laughter spark connection and deepen intimacy. Certainly these attributes contribute to a sense that our loved one is beautiful, and is a precious sight to behold!
So the lyrics sung by Johnny and other love balladeers cause us to think about love and beauty in ways that awaken our hearts to what is really important. After all, in this life it really is the heart that matters. I’d go as far as to say that beauty is in the heart of the beholder.
Karen Williams feels beautiful most of the time…inside and out. For more information about Karen and her work, please visit www.hahainstitute.com