Beauty Incognito

Beauty (Photo credit: byroncoons)
Beauty (Photo credit: byroncoons)

In 2008, Gene Weingarten was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his Washington Post story “Pearls Before Breakfast” chronicling the world-class violinist Joshua Bell who, as an experiment, played beautiful music in a subway station filled with unheeding commuters. The experiment was videotaped on hidden camera. Of the 1,097 people who passed by, only seven stopped to listen to him, and only one recognized him. For his nearly 45-minute performance, Bell collected $32.17 from 27 passersby (excluding $20 from the passerby who recognized him). The night before, he earned considerably more playing the same repertoire at a concert. This experiment was organized by Washington Post as part of a social research on perception, taste and priorities of people. The underlying questions:in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the beauty and talent in an unexpected context?

Beauty       (Photo credit: byroncoons)
Beauty (Photo credit: byroncoons)

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other beautiful things in life have we likewise failed to appreciate?

Jeanne and I are going out for more than a year. Let me begin by admitting one hard fact that makes our love story quite unique: our age gap is beyond the number of your fingers (and that alone can tell you a lot). We work in an emergency/elective operating room in one of the busiest and largest government hospitals in Manila. We are going to celebrate our anniversary this month, so I wrote this blog to tell her how much I love her, and why I have always said that I was captivated by her beauty.

Beauty is not always what it appears to be: When I first saw Jeanne, she was crying alone because it was the day when her father passed away. There have been a lot of beautiful woman I’ve seen in the past, but certainly not like her. From observing her behavior, I knew she was at least 35 years old, her clean cut short hair, accentuated her age. She is smaller than the average but attractive in the way that I would only describe as nightingale-ish, her complexion is clear and her face, if examined very closely, has every sign of maturity. Her eyes which were watered in throne (with her spectacles) are small, yet alert to everything around her. Her mouth and lips gives more impression than her smile. She asked me why I find her attractive despite her age. I simply replied: “what is essential is invisible to the eye; after all I’ve discovered out about you, you will always be beautiful to me because I saw the real you”. In the world we are living today, we must proceed with caution on what our society perceives as beautiful. We must look beyond what is mere physical to glimpse the “eidos” of nature’s design to entrap even the wisest.

Beauty is in the substance: We must not be fascinated by flashes of glimmer which obscures the truth. We need to find out the intrinsic value, essence and character of the person. Jeanne, to me, is the embodiment of ideal femininity. Being God-fearing, kind-hearted and innocent is certainly her most effective attributes that I am attracted to. Despite being temperamental on her hard surface; very few people know that she is a sentimentalist, who plays good music and sings a lot. She is very timid, virtuous and does not have any vices. She was raised with good values by her family to whom she dedicated her whole life working, the reason why she stayed single until I came. She also has a brilliant mind, and has already proved herself as one of our ablest senior nurses. She is a patient-advocate and would always stand her ground in protecting their rights to our hospital administrators.

Beauty transcends barriers: beauty is universal. Our age difference which spans almost two decades did not hamper me to recognize the beauty within her, and I did it out of my love for her. Physical beauty may fade in time, but inner beauty will last a lifetime. The goodness and kindness of her heart will forever remain in her that no biological or natural causes can take it away from her.

Beauty is spiritual in nature: Jeanne is not a good stand-in for the Virgin Mary nor can be compared to St. Teresa of Calcutta. But she brings me closer to God. I would not have gone to St. Jude Church for novena every Thursday if not for her. She sings religious songs I have never heard before. And I would not have visited 14 churches during a “Visita Iglesia” without Jeanne by my side. But more than that, she upholds everyday every Catholic teaching to which she learned when was still in a convent. Her beauty mirrors a spirituality fashioned in the image and likeness of God. So in the end, what is true beauty… Jeanne taught me that what is beautiful is what makes our essence glow from within.

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