Truths Mirrors Tell
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
When Keats was writing these words, I am sure he was talking about the transcendentalist notion that life is fleeting and so you must eat of the beauty of the moment (since that’s all you really get anyway).
Although I have carpe-ed my own diem from time to time, I actually want to take a moment to talk a little bit about truth and beauty of their own accord, notwithstanding the fact that I kind of disagree with the whole transcendentalist philosophy.
There have been many times in my life where I have looked into a mirror and cringed, horrified. This is especially true on the day after Thanksgiving, where I torture myself by looking into the mirror as I stand there holding the rolls of fat where the pie ended up. Also, this can be bad on days when I have been around a lot of very pretty women with perfectly straight teeth, and I can stand for a hour just vainly trying to push my crooked lower tooth back into its rightful place with my tongue.
My friend Nancy gave me a very good book called, “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.”
For a writer, I actually don’t like reading very much, and I only read books that are very highly recommended. But, I am on a vacation to Colorado and didn’t bring much to read so I started reading it.
In it, the author Julia Cameron talks about releasing one’s personal ability to channel the creative forces of the universe through a series of steps and exercises. It sounded like a lot of hippy, crystal-licking bullcrap to me, but I really liked some of what she said. She started talking about truth and how a journey to find one’s creative soul may lead to strange and uncomfortable truths that will probably change the investigator’s life permanently.
Over the past few days, I have been working with her systems of exercises and have found myself drawn more and more to telling the truth. It’s as if, in order to find my creative soul (the one that I honestly though I had suffocated in a hotel room and then buried in the desert), I have to finally face truths about myself and my worldview that I have kept muffled in my mental toolshed.
“But,” you say, “What does this have to do with Keats?”
Like I said before, there have been times when I couldn’t look in the mirror. There have been months when I consciously avoided looking at my own face, my own eyes, for fear of what I would see in them. There have been days when I have faced myself purposely, like a challenge to see if I could find a part of my soul that I personally found to be lovely. And I couldn’t.
Today, I came home from a lovely adventure with some former students of mine, as well as a wonderful party thrown by a friend. When I came to my computer to do my nightly e-mail check and to upload a fantastic picture of my adventures, I was surprised to see my own face, lovely and radiant and beautiful.
I know that may sound narcissistic, and it probably is. The thing is, I don’t care. I took pictures (maybe 25 in all) of the faces I love to make most of all. In my search to find and tell the honest truth, I realized that just the telling of the truth is what I find beautiful in myself.
I’m sure Keats would be shaking his fist at me if he could hear me quote his lovely poem in reference to this event.
Still, I believe that I have a new understanding of truth and beauty. True beauty can only be understood as truth is uncovered. And those who seek truth will find beauty always accompanies it. I think that as I continue to learn who I am and what story is mine to tell, I will be able to find the parts of myself that are truly beautiful and finally be able to recognize them as a part of me.