I have finally found some time to read a variety of posts from fellow bloggers, and through three different posts, something strikes me. First, was at Little Big Wolf’s Daily Plate of Crazy who writes about a new book by Lori Gottlieb, Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. She is irked by the title, by the idea that women are being told to “Settle” for something that is not excellent, or perfect, but “good enough.” Along a similar vein, a friend, Shafeen, in his blog ~synthesis~ discusses the idea of barriers in schools, whereby we, as a society are setting the bar too low in schools, thus ensuring the failure of our kids. In an opposing view, Dad’s House praises the book, saying the book will help women consider more carefully their real requirements in a partner. Over at Better Now, Kristin writes about being criticized for trying to be healthy, for being tall and skinny, for having (and writing about) her hot boyfriend. She is accused of being dysmorphic and self conscious for simply learning to be at one with herself, for raising the bar for herself. And finally my friend Lindsay at Dispatches on Writing, Art, Music discusses the meaning of beauty with relation to teaching a Rilke poem. When she asks one of her students what they think the meaning of beauty is, one whispers “that I’m ugly.” She writes, “Beauty reminds us of our inadequacies, of our mortality, of our limits. Beauty tells us of our short-comings, but also of what is possible.”
Lately I have been aware of my own indifference to beauty. At risk of being accused of being dysmorphic like Kristin, here is the truth: when people tell me I am beautiful and I don’t see it. When I look in the mirror I see eyes, nose, mouth, hair, but I fail to see whatever it was that lead them to that conclusion. I suppose when I see beauty in someone, it is not about the components, its about the overall effect. A gesture, a twinkle in someone’s eye, the way a certain light plays in someone’s hair. I might find beauty in a hand (as I did Arron’s), but it has more to do with what the hand can do, its touch against mine. These are things one rarely sees in a mirror.
Lindsay writes in her post: “Love, like Beauty, is supposed to take you somewhere. It has the possibility (the promise?) of taking you closer to yourself, closer to God, closer to life, to Spirit, to Mystery. No matter what you are loving… The lover, takes you, â€œin the gathering out-leapâ€ beyond who you were, so that you can be at one with yourself, with the world.”
I don’t know what is in the book, though clearly the author believes that women are setting the bar too high, thus not achieving their unrealistic goals. We expect love to take us beyond who we are. But isn’t that always the challenge? I don’t think I am willing to “settle” in any aspect of my life. I guess I will have to read the book to be convinced otherwise.