We hear it all the time, and yet we tend to underestimate its truth until we actually experience it ourselves:
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
The saying tends to be weighted strongly towards the interpretation of physical, human beauty, and yet after months of being away from my hometown to recently return, I can’t help but notice its validity when considering the beauty of a place.
Most of us (especially those living in Vancouver) are surrounded by beauty on a daily basis. We have soaring mountains and meandering bays, plentiful trees of the most vibrant greens, interesting and diverse architecture, parks that would make any nature lover cry with joy, and awe-worthy wildlife to go along with it all. It’s actually pretty amazing.
So why didn’t I ever see it before?
Somehow being away for so long made me appreciate all of these little – or ginormous – details about Vancouver that I’d managed to overlook before. After experiencing the many flatlands found across Europe, words can’t describe the amount of joy I have at something as simple as looking at a nearby mountain.
Noting that the interpretation of physical human beauty and physical worldly beauty aren’t so different after all, I’ve come to ponder the process. Perhaps repetition and monotony change the way we see our surroundings just as they skew the way we see ourselves. It’s that same old face in the mirror each day, and sometimes in order to feel or see ourselves as beautiful once again, we need to mix up the monotony. Women put on makeup and change their hair to accomplish this, while men might do a myriad of different things (including simply accepting their appearance for what it is). But what might happen if our mirror is stolen from us – or scarier yet – if the reflection in the mirror was replaced by an entirely different face?
Once we see our familiar reflection again, we might just consider ourselves a little more beautiful, regardless of how many times we’ve seen the sight before.
I took a road trip up to my father’s ranch, which is situated roughly 4 hours northeast of Vancouver. I’ve entertained this drive many times throughout my childhood and adolescent years, and yet I can honestly say that my most recent trip was the single one that be considered entertaining.
I surprised myself at the amount of beauty I suddenly saw in the familiar route; the cliff-perched, meandering highway, the many tunnels, the rivers, the waterfalls, and the scarcely treed, rock-sided mountains. Nothing in this landscape had changed, and yet everything appeared different.
Whereas these sights were generally regarded with distaste in my earlier years, when I’d yearn for unfamiliar, tropical landscape to wow me with wanderlust, I finally saw the true beauty in what I’d known so well but never appreciated.
So it’s true even when it comes to playing tourist in your hometown: beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
The kicker, it seems, is that appreciating the various kinds of beauty in the world isn’t always just a matter of choice. It’s a matter of experience and understanding, the thickening of values, and the undertaking of constant excitement. It’s a matter of dwelling on the beauty, as opposed to just letting it pass us by. It’s about taking the time to appreciate and marvel over something, even if it’s just your own face in the mirror.
Perhaps being a narcissist isn’t such a bad thing after all; I – for once – am a reborn narcissist.
A narcissist for the beauty of Vancouver, my sweet little hometown.