You Ain’t A Beauty, But Hey You’re Alright
Posted on October 19, 2011
Beauty. Beauty is something which all of us feel, but which so very few of us can understand, let alone define. Some would attempt to even quantify it, as though beauty is a commodity which one can so easily sell. Indeed, in today’s world a very warped sense of beauty has become abundant across the whole of the social spectrum, from the catwalks of Milan, to the bedroom walls of 10 year olds. Alas, “real” beauty, or at least the notion of it, is becoming increasingly difficult to decipher in a world where a man is judged not on the contents of his soul, rather the contents of his bank account. A world where a woman is judged based simply on her aesthetics, as opposed to the goodness of her heart. That said, we live in a world where every day a person commits an act so extraordinary, it defines true beauty more than a mere mortal like me will ever be able to. Our world is abundant with beauty, the task today is to open our eyes to see it. In the world which has produced the likes of Socrates, Da Vinci, Dante, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats, & Orwell, to Dylan, Springsteen, Philip Glass and Pablo Neruda – there is no shortage of beauty, or as demonstrated by those listed, people who have come closest to uncovering the truth of our very being. It is with Neruda that I begin, as it is from his “I Do Not Love You“ that I find what I feel to be one of the most stunning and true definitions of beauty in existence;
I believe that beauty and love are eternally entwined, inseparable, yet not interchangeable. The most beautiful moments are those when the very essence of our being feels fulfilled, when we feel the beauty of truth wrapped around us, in us, bringing with it a newfound love for ourselves, and the world around us.
There are so many different perceptions of beauty, from the aesthetic beauty, to the beauty within us. Personally, whilst I appreciate aesthetic beauty, whether that be an aesthetic beauty with a deeper meaning like Dalí’s “The Persistence of Memory”, or aesthetic natural beauty, like Michelle Monaghan (because lets face it, she’s hot), I believe real beauty to be not something which we see, but which we feel.
When I was young and at primary school, my English teacher used to employ a whole arsenal of God awful teaching methods, one of which included handwriting sheets designed to “improve” our handwriting skills. The reason I mention this is because I remember hour after hour copying out phrase after phrase, one of which included what I later learned to be a saying of 3rd Century BC Greek; “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. I still shudder a little when reading that, as I fully expect to see Mrs. Robertson stampeding towards me brandishing a pencil, book of quotations, and donning a look that could so very easily kill… Shuddering aside, it is so very true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as my perception of beauty is most probably different to your perception of beauty, as are our perceptions different to our neighbours’ etc. With that in mind, I now come to the main source of the beauty which I find in my life, and that is contained within the music of Bruce Springsteen.
In November of 2010, something very profound happened. Bruce Springsteen released “The Promise“, an album comprised of a collection of songs which he recorded between 1977 and 1978, whilst recording his 4th studio album, “Darkness on the Edge of Town“. This was a little over a month into an 8 month long leave of absence from school, at a time in my life which was amongst my darkest moments. I remember sitting awake one night feeling as low as I ever have done, when I heard it, “The Promise”.
At roughly 2 mins 20 seconds in I was struck by the most raw and honest wave of emotion which I had felt in years, the moment when Springsteen sings;
For the first time in my life I felt exactly what it was that I had been missing. It was at that moment that I realised that music was singularly the most important thing in my life – after family – and the primary source of the “light” at the end of my “tunnel”. In the depths of loneliness and alienation, depression and struggle, Bruce Springsteen provided me with what felt like my last hope. I had been a “fan” of his for some time at this point, I came to know his music in the short time after my Dad died, which in itself forged for a very deep and meaningful relationship with his music. “The Promise” coming into my life at the time it did compounded that relationship, bringing with it literally a promise, that no matter how extraordinarily dark things seemed, I was not alone. Heck, Springsteen had experienced it, and translated it into music, over 15 years before I was even born!
It was in late November 2010 that I found out what beauty was to mean in my life, and whilst it is so very different to the beauty which others may feel, for me beauty is the truth and love in life, but more specifically, the truth, love, and beauty which is represented in the music of Bruce Springsteen, and that is the love and honesty, the truth between people & in relationships and the beauty they bring to our lives.