Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Gift Of Self: The Difference Between What Is And Is Not Beautiful

          I do a lot of work with publicists and writers; indeed true masters of the Adjective. It’s an art form in itself really, to interview or review important events and people in our culture, and to make those words appear necessary enough to compete with the insatiable stimuli we encounter in our day-to-day lives. Now, I’m not here to disparage such an occupation or vocation, but I have noticed an emerging consistency, one that I would like to see debunked. Many of us use the word “Beautiful”, but fewer are those people who, I believe, truly understand the word for its meaning and implications. Sometimes, when I read about something that is labeled as "beautiful", and it isn't, I am reminded of the character Inigo Montoya telling the character Vizzini that he “doesn’t think that word means what you think it means” in the movie The Princess Bride.

            But James, isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder? Who are you to say what is and is not beautiful (to which I often reply, “Well, I’m a badass")? True, some beautiful things in this world appear to be more beautiful to some relative to others. However, it is also true that some people regard certain things as beautiful when those things are not…especially in regard to popular music. Here’s why: while different people may have different notions and ideas for what is and is not beautiful, all things that are beautiful have/should have one thing in common. Every beautiful thing originates with a person giving the gift of his or herself. That is to say, too, that everything that ever was or has been beautiful originated with the gift of one man or woman’s self. To be “self-giving” is the act, beauty the outcome, and love the virtue. If a word, act, or sound does not somehow originate with an act of “self-giving”, then it is not a beautiful thing. Likewise, if a word, act, or sound originates from a selfish act, then I would regard it as the opposite of beautiful, that is, inherently ugly. Again, I am accounting for the difference between things that are beautiful, not beautiful, and ugly. That is not to say that a “non-beautiful” thing is a bad thing...it’s just a thing.

            Beautiful music is timeless music. A beautiful piece is written as a gift from the artist to the listener, regardless of the style or genre. Beautiful music merits financial gain and support simply by its beauty alone, and not because of it’s popularity or uniformity with like-written songs or pieces. Beautiful music, in this way, is not fleeting, but instead transports us to the time and place most relevant to us hearing it every time it plays throughout our entire lives. Therefore it, and other art forms likewise, should be reverenced and appreciated.

            “Man cannot fully find himself except through the gift of himself.” – Pope Saint John Paul II. To search for, create, and live out beautiful things is to devote time to finding one’s true self. We become more confident and sure, charitable and peaceful, interesting and vibrant people. Let us never settle for things that are not beautiful, but instead receive them and live lives devoted, therefore, to fixing a broken world.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!