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Beyond the Surface

8 months ago by

I am someone who loves beautiful things. Apparently, I am also someone who is very quick to judge anything that doesn’t fit my idea of beauty. Like the other day, when I was having coffee at one of my favorite cafés in the city — a café that is frequented by a few very well-dressed individuals.

I was distracting myself from writing observing what they were wearing when suddenly a woman walked in wearing what can only be described as a coat that makes you want to look the other way. (Read: hideous). Naturally, I tried very hard not to notice it (leading to an awkward moment between me and the guy at the table next to me, who thought I was looking at him while really all I was trying to do was not look at the coat). (It’s a little bit crazy, I know). (Please tell me you do this too).

In that moment, I realized that I was no longer observing — I was judging. I was judging her, and I was judging her coat — all because it didn’t fit my idea of “beauty”. (I may have even felt slightly offended by the coat and how it interrupted my otherwise beautiful morning).

The thing is, I never thought of myself as judgmental. I thought of others as judgmental, sure, but I was clearly not of them. I remember a conversation I had with my coach a few years ago about my fear of what other people might think of me. I remember she told me that the only reason I was afraid of being judged was because I was judging others. At the time, I couldn’t believe it. Judgemental, me?

Clearly, she was right.

Especially when we have perfectionistic tendencies, we may find ourselves trying hard not to notice the “imperfections” in everyday life (like said coat), and when we do notice them, it’s hard not to judge them.

In my quest for beauty, I have often found myself judging things that aren’t “beautiful”, which – I’ll admit – is not my most attractive quality. But, observant as I am, I realized that I am also able to notice all the beauty that is surrounding me. I notice the woman in the beautiful coat too, and how radiant she looks. I notice the beautiful way the barista interacts with everyone that comes through the door. I notice the morning light coming in through the windows, and the gentle breeze that you feel every time the door opens. I remember sitting there on that particular Friday morning, taking a sip of my coffee and, already having forgotten about the coat, realizing how beautiful that moment was.

In that moment, I realized that while my observant qualities can be a flaw, when balanced they can be a beautiful characteristic too. It reflects our ability to notice beauty — even in everyday moments. In that moment, I realized too that true beauty is not in the coat, but in the love, and attention, and care that was poured into it. It is in the way the woman carries herself in it — how radiant she looks as she walks in. True beauty, I realized, is the beauty that lies beyond the surface.

To recognize it, we have to learn to let go of our initial judgements, to care less about the seeming imperfections of life and to bring more awareness to its inherent beauty.

We may not always be aware of the beauty that is surrounding us (even though we always seem to notice its seeming imperfections). But if we can let go of our judgements, even just a little bit, and use our observant qualities to notice the beauty that lies beyond the surface, isn’t that when life truly becomes beautiful?

Judith is a writer and the founder of Anew, a place where she explores everyday life in a new era.

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