How do I distinguish fundamental beauty from fleeting, or superficial, beauty? What is the nature of illusion? What is the nature of dis-illusion? How does one get through illusion?
Today I went exploring. There is a neighborhood about 14 miles from where I live, where there is a high-concentration of Hindu-Indians, and I went there to explore. I make Indian food; I do a lot of Vedic studying; I do mantra; I do pranic breathing…it seems a natural thing for me to want to explore such a neighborhood.
When I was a truck driver, back in 1999, exploring like this was easier: wherever I happened to end up delivering or picking up a load, was a potential adventure.
But now, such adventures are things I must initiate, they don’t just happen as part of every day life. As such, the feeling of the adventure was new and different. When I was a truck driver, my attitude was one of just passing through (which I was), so why not take the opportunity to soak in the sights, so to say. But now, I am a resident “here” and I don’t belong “there”. I know that sounds a bit ludicrous, but how often do people–any people–go into different cultural neighborhoods, without having some prior connection to the people or the businesses, without having a “reason”? When was the last time you went into a Latino/Hindu/Jewish/Nigerian/Muslim community just because?
Personally, I love cultural exchange, and having the opportunity to experience different foods, styles, stores, music, languages. It expands my idea of people, and my idea of myself.
While I was in the Indian neighborhood “exploring”, I saw a sari store, with bright fabrics and saris in the window. I went into 3 other stores in the area, each time coming out and being visually drawn to the sari store. “But”, I thought, “I have no reason whatsoever to go into a sari store”. I am a jeans and t-shirt kind of person. What would I do with a sari?
but they are so beautiful!
Each and every time I came out of one of the other stores (grocers, flower store, deli…), I looked at the sari store window, saw the colors and thought …but they are so beautiful.
I decided to go in, “just to look at the beautiful colors”.
But once in, my pulse increased, I felt almost giddy; everything was so beautiful. The fabrics, the patterns, the stitching, the colors!
What? this is not like me. Who is this person?
After about 30 minutes looking at everything, touching all the fabrics, running my fingers on the embroidery and the baubles, I bought a salwar kameez–a three piece “suit” with pants (which to my American brain look sort of like scrubs), a long “shirt”, and a scarf. The colors are a bit subdued, they are a beige with a bright green accent, and the embroidery–exquisite!
Now I just need get up the courage to wear it.
I have no idea what this has to do with the essence of beauty, or disillusion, or seeing through illusion. Maybe it has to do with finding a new part of myself, letting go of an “illusion” which is preventing my expansion, and now I am becoming something more. I don’t know, but in the spirit of exploration and adventure, I am all for it.
I hit my beauty bone today, and it hasn’t stopped tingling. Who knew?