The meaning of the phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is lost among many of us. I think that a common misconception of that phrase is that it means: “there are both beautiful and ugly things in this world and it is up to me which I choose to recognize.” Truly enough, there are beautiful things in this world, just as there are ugly things. Even more truly, it is up to us which things we decide to acknowledge and spend our energy on.
However, to consider something beautiful is not to simply open our eyes or our minds to recognize something that has met someone else’s predetermined qualifications of beauty. Rather, beauty is individuated. It is different for each person, because for something to beautiful is for it to captivate the mind and heart simultaneously. Many things, beautiful and otherwise, are capable of captivating our minds, but when this captivation affects both the mind and the spirit, we call it beauty. And beauty, unlike many other characteristics, is capable of further action. Beauty is capable of inspiring. It is capable of calling individuals to a higher action, a higher love, and ultimately, a higher existence. Beauty surpasses any kind of physical existence or recognition—it permeates the spirit, and when we are lucky, it alters how we see the world in front of our own eyes. We are able to soften our view of a harder world, see the better and the good in the imperfect, and capable of altering our own actions so that we may become beautiful, too. We are able to become inspired so that we may do the same for a different set of eyes and heart.
Maybe the ability to recognize beauty in an imperfect world is enough, for though we are flawed, there is something within us that is able to recognize the flawless—glimpses of what truly encapsulates something higher. We can see glimpses of beauty all around us if we only look, and perhaps that is the trick to it all—to see beauty in others so that our full image of beauty may be complete.
It seems that beauty has a fleeting yet eternal nature—something can be beautiful in an instant, like an action or a spoken word, but is just as quickly gone as it was performed. Isn’t that true for life itself? Just as quickly as a moment comes, it goes. Sometimes those moments contain beauty, and sometimes they contain hurt. A moment can be infinitely perfect, other times endlessly painful. The trick is in finding a way to live a life where we can consistently uncover those beautiful moments amongst the rubble of a broken world.