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Life is Beautiful

Tanya Corder

I'm born. My senses are exploring their capabilities: I blink and allow my eyes to take in the sudden surge of light. I stop crying and begin to listen. I inhale the fresh aroma of soap. My tightened fist slow relaxes and my fingers blossom. Such effort exhausts me and I sleep.

From the moments of infancy, my encounters with the world around me have shaped my ever-changing understanding of beauty. People assign the term beauty to entities they encounter that incite a pleasurable response. One can not classify objects as beautiful in the manner that one classifies an apple as a fruit. A fruit is an ovary that surrounds the seeds of a plant; because an apple has seeds, it may be classified as a fruit. Beautiful entities can never have defining characteristics, because two entities may both have similar characteristics, for example florescent colors, but only one may excite you. Beauty is at times unpredictable and unexplainable. You may not be able to explain what it is about the object that pleases you so much, or why an object arouses you now, but may not have before. An object's beauty may be temporal, temporal with the capability to be revitalized, or may just be imperishable. Ugly objects are not needed to experience beauty because beauty incites emotion. If one must compare the object to another object to determine if it is beautiful, the object is undoubtedly not beautiful; you just know when something is beautiful. I have come to draw these general conclusions through my encounters with beauty in my journey through life.

As a child, my perceptions of the world were pure and untainted by society and education. I knew the world as it was, as it is. Because my mind was so clear and open, I could draw my own conclusions and make my own connections. The world was open before me as my curiosity ran rampant. I would pick the prettiest smelling flowers, and roses and carnations were not among them. The plumerias from Mrs. Hubshman's garden were the prettiest and smelt the sweetest because of the bee sting I suffered while retrieving them. At the beach, I would not admire the serene setting of the waves crashing on the shore, but would rather follow the hermit crab back to its hole and observe it's every move. The reef with all of its creatures interacting would be the reason I would not return home until after dark. Even the ugliest stonefish was beautiful to me; I could watch it for hours.

It was at this age that I realized I was attracted to the beauty in the living and life. Inanimate objects did not change and thus did not stimulate me. I never played with dolls because of the notion of pretending they were alive. I wanted responsive interaction. Drawings and static settings did not captivate me. This fascination created to foundation for my later opinions of beauty.

Adolescence was an awkward time in my life. It was when I shed my childhood and was pushed into adult life. My body and mind changed and so did my understanding of the world and people. I was introduced to mainstream media and popular culture and my views and experiences with beauty were limited by society. The experience of beauty is meant to provide a sense of appreciation, excitement, and gratification; however, this was a time when society's elite standards cut off my connection with worldly beauty and placed more of an emphasis on humans and outer appearances.

Humans naturally fit into the category of entities that may be deemed beautiful. However, according to societal standards, not all humans should be considered beautiful. The select few that it has deemed worthy of such title are displayed on magazine covers, within our television sets and computer screens, on billboards, and essentially everywhere else a pair of eyes can connect with. They are to be ideally flawless. During adolescence, I came to envy this flawlessness. Despite how much people would tell me that it is our imperfections that make us unique, the power of media was (and still is) so resonant that it was impossible to break from its influences. Everyone has insecurities. It is normal, but a lot of my insecurities are directly brought about by society pressures. My perceptions of beauty transformed into one of perfection. My world transformed into one of cosmetics and beauty products. It was not until my best friend, who suffered from depression and anorexia, was admitted into a rehabilitations center at an emaciated 83 pounds, that I broke loose from the societal image of beauty. I made a covenant to myself to fall back into that lifestyle again, and I have not shaved my legs since that day to show that I am not superficial.

Despite my negative experiences, I learned an important lesson about beauty during that time: A sense of personal beauty is very vital because one cannot learn to appreciate the beauty in other things until they fully connect with their own beauty. As cliché as it may sound, it proved true for me. When weighted in my own insecurities, I spent very little times noticing others or the phenomenal world about me. I was so consumed in trying to better myself or hide what I could not fix. Also, I learned that despite how society may portray the quest for beauty as a contest with your peers, beauty cannot be ranked. Each beautiful experience or object is individually beautiful apart from the array of other beauty encounters. There is no such thing as more beautiful to me – just beautiful in a different way. Last, the shift from worldly beauties to beauty in humans remained with me from that time on.

At the end of my freshman year in high school, I discovered one of the most beautiful things I have ever encountered, my first love. This experience brought me closer to beauty than I ever thought was possible. Anatomically, I have always viewed the human body as breath taking. The definition of the muscles, the interdependency of the organs, and the complication of it all has always fascinated me. Therefore, my own personal interaction, emotionally and physically, with such personification of beauty was amazing. Minnie Riperton sang, "Loving you is easy 'cause you're beautiful," and it wasn't until then that I fully understood the implications behind that phrase. Before this time, I was able to take awe, serenity, warmth, excitement, fascination and even pain from beauty, but never love. Love is the strongest emotion that beauty has been able to evoke for me. It was not his physical beauty that I was drawn to so much, (although I could stare at him for hours) it was the beauty of the interactions between us.

The last major "beautiful" events in my life that have affected my perceptions of beauty were the birth of my niece and my adventure into college. Caring for my niece throughout the first year of her life opened up my eyes to the essence of purity. The softness of her skin, the innocence in her actions, the warmth she gives off, and her fragility all help explain the feeling of satisfaction you feel when she falls asleep on your shoulder, laughs at your funny faces, or witness her development and growth. The fact that she was a product of such a beautiful relationship also adds to the beauty she radiates. The self-gratification I felt when taking care of her can only be explained through beauty.

I had lived my entire life on a three mile long island sheltered from the world. Although one imagines what life may be like in the metropolitan of the United States, nothing can describe the experience. Beauty was portrayed to me in the change of the seasons. The fall's colors and serenity first appealed to me here. Although I had seen paintings and photos of fall, it was this need for a physical interaction with it to understand it's beauty. (Remember, I developed this need for interaction in childhood.) The winter as well was a memorable encounter with beauty. Who ever knew there could be so much beauty in the death of life? The encompassing and brilliant snow exited me as if I were a child again. What I took from coming to college was that there is so much beauty in new experiences; however, because they are new, they are short lived and cannot be relived.

In general, the beauty in my life has been seen as a mind-altering emotional experience. As a result of those experiences, I see this enigmatic world in a new light. My senses are suddenly more conscious, my optimism is refueled, and I take with me something new from every encounter with beauty. I learn more about myself, and I have a deeper understanding of the world itself. I am reborn. To be at peace with yourself and with your surroundings one needs a regular dosage of beauty.

"Share Beauty. Spread Hope." –Breast Cancer Bracelet

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