Sunday, June 5, 2011

A thing of beauty..

 A thing of beauty....  is finding joy in the everyday, in the ordinary! My perception of beauty has changed and evolved over time ( as perceptions must) and now after a lifetime of debating about 'good, better, best', I've realised that there is no such thing.  It is truly, as they say, 'in the eye of the beholder'. I know that is as cliched as one can get. So let me try and get you to see things from my perspective.

In Malayalam there is a saying ' Kakekyun tan kunj, pon kunj' the gist of which means that even a crow finds his child beautiful. Long before the dawn of time .. my time that is, I would wonder how the crow could be so blind. Having my own children enabled me to see some sense in that saying. It was only recently however, that a friendship  opened me to the limitless possibilities of beauty.

 Unlike  most parents who  nag and push their children to achieve in every possible field by ferrying them from one class to another and trying to bribe them with all that money can buy, this special mother sees achievement in whatever her child does. She is grateful to the School for accepting her child into it, she sees a bit part in the school play as a major victory and records the event,  and every spelling he learns as a milestone. She sees his ability to not hold grudges as a positive trait and a sign of innocence instead of seeing it as a sign of  slow learning and social ineptness.

While most mothers pray for their sons (daughters too) to never leave them and complain when they fly the  nest, she hopes her son will be independent enough to never want her near when he grows up. She is pleased that when other children are expressing discontent at not having the best of everything, her child is thrilled with the smallest gaily wrapped gift. She finds joy and beauty in his honesty, his innocence and his ability to forget and forgive all those who snicker at him. Being with her and seeing her ability, calms me and I too have begun to see the beauty of being a parent instead of just judging by milestones.  The lesson here being that beauty is not about the physical or material trappings, but goes way beyond that. You do need love to see that beauty and show it to the world.

 In fact, beauty is more in the abstract..   Abstracts and ideals that we all claim to engender, of which  I never understood the true beauty of when practised meaningfully.   'Equality"  is one such I have read about , preached , vociferously campaigned for   and in a crunch claim to practice. After all, I do not let considerations like wealth, social standing, intellect, talent  etc weigh on my behaviour and yet.... I  had never really seen it in practise.... not the way I do now. I do have my favourites. People whom I know I like more  and those I know I like less. Don't you?

 True equality is a beautiful, uplifting thing to be a part of. I observed it for the first time through the eyes of my yoga teacher. I noticed that she had this wonderful ability to treat everyone the same. I would watch her deal with the many people who came to the classes and was puzzled  why it mesmerised me, till I realized that it was a beautiful thing to actually see an ideal " Equality" in action. She would scold anyone she felt was not trying hard enough, she would push everyone to do their best and remember each ones special problem.  The classes were not free, but she rarely pushed anyone to pay, unless they were actually trying to get in for free. Then she seemed to know and ask the person in question, but in a very non-accusatory manner. The next day she would treat the person with the same affectionate cajoling/ bullying  that she always did. No matter who expresses dislike, complains or flatters, she'd be the same. Seems easy, but try it and you'll see what I mean.

 When I hear of giants like Mother Teresa and Baba Amte, it is not easy to understand the joy and motivation they could have found in caring for mankind, but now it is beginning to dawn on me. While this may be a  very small part of what the giants did, I can see some light . Isn't that what true beauty should do? Light you up from within?

Coming back to the crow with the golden child, I have seen beauty in the valiant way a pair of lapwing fight to save their chicks. With a nest on the ground in this urban jungle ( a vacant plot of land near my home), they fights the odds for their little ones. Humans who do not care, cats who are on the look out for a meal, snakes that will try and finish the eggs even before they hatch and dogs that will just destroy the nest, these are some of the hazards that the lapwings stay awake night and day and defends their young ones. Although I know that they mate for life and come back to the same nesting ground, I marvel at them each season I see them near my house. I see a miracle in the birds that  fly away (and return unerringly) even against all the odds. I see the joy with which they fly with their young. Even though not all survive, their flight celebrates those that do. A Soaring flight in the sky is always a beautiful sight but this is especially so as I have witnessed the journey to get there. I can claim to be a participant in that beautiful journey.

In fact the longer I live, the more I realize that there is beauty in the everyday, in the ordinary. That which we forget to see,overlook in the business of life.... the loyalty and devotion of the common household pet dog who loves you more than you probably love  yourself. There is a miracle in the smile of the woman who manages to finally break free from her abusive husband,  something extraordinary in the ability to deal with each person without bias, in a mother's love. The beautiful birdsong of the koel that we do not pay attention to as we choose to watch TV instead, the graceful flight of the kite even as it swoops down to catch a  meal., all very commonplace and yet amazing.

I do not know the absolute definition of beauty or even if there is one all can agree on. But such contests do make one think and arrive at some answers.  I do know that if you can find joy in the everyday, the commonplace, the ordinary, your eye will unerringly find beauty.


  1. Hi suchusmita.. you have a very colourful blog with great posts. Beauty as you said is not in the material trappings but goes beyond that.. it is a different realm, a different plane, a different feeling of contentment, equipoise and love:)

  2. Thanks for dropping by.....
    I am just a blogger....nothing deep about what I write. I seem to get myself into some interesting situations and my daughter encouraged me to write them down. As for the name. those that know me know that I usually do not have a serious bone in my body. I am always laughing and seem to find humor in everyday things. I will probably never grow up and have acquired the reputation of being a bit nuts! So, if you go back in my blog a bit you will find some stories about goofy things I have done or have happened to me.

    You, however, are obviously a writer and handle words well. I could never be so eloquent. kt

  3. Hi Sajeev, Thanks. About beauty.. well all that can be said is that it depends on the beholder and that is all... :)

  4. Hi kt, I did return to your blog and had fun reading the posts. Thanks for the very generous words about my writing. :)


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