Daily Zen - Practical Life Guidance

What Is Truly Beautiful?

Ever since I was a child, I’ve had allergic reactions to nearly everything. Sometimes my entire body would break out into a madly itching, swelling, oozing rash. It seems I was allergic to the whole planet.

I eventually learned that I needed to adhere to a strict healthy lifestyle if I was going to survive. For the most part, that has worked well for me, as difficult as the challenges have been.

But sometimes I slip up. A few weeks ago, I used a hair color I thought contained natural ingredients. The next day I woke up with my scalp covered in that aforementioned rash. The side of my face had swelled up like a balloon. “Oh, great,” I thought. “I look gorgeous.”

I took an emergency antihistamine but the swelling continued at an alarming rate. All of a sudden most of my face had swelled up and was spreading to my neck. I got dressed and walked to the bus which took me to urgent care. As soon as I said “allergic reaction,” nurses quickly took me in ahead of people in the crowded waiting room. A doctor left her patient to rush in and diagnose my situation.

They had to monitor me to make sure I didn’t go into anaphylactic shock. But somehow my throat never swelled up, even though everything around it did. I was never in serious danger and I ended up being fine. I wasn’t in any pain and the discomfort was bearable.

Still, I looked like I got beat up in the face. It would be about a week until the swelling went down. One eye was completely swollen shut and I had dark purple under-eye circles.

Although I looked frightening, I decided to go out anyway, walking around Seattle doing my normal errands, walking along the water while watching the boats, ducks, and rowing teams. The sun felt euphoric as it was shining on my face. Strangely, I had never felt so carefree, so blissful, and so… BEAUTIFUL.

What? What was happening? How was I feeling the opposite of how I looked?

Then I remembered. Real beauty is of the soul. It’s something you experience in your entire energy field. I had nothing to lose when it came to my physical appearance so I gave up on it. I didn’t care what anyone thought because there was nothing I could do. My inhibitions were down and I was a pure being once again, like a child. I wanted to remain in that state of consciousness forever.

The most beautiful things in life are things that are true to itself.

I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying who listens or what they think. — Rumi

Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations. — Alan Watts