Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Gift of Beauty

Perched on top of the stupa marking the site of ancient Kapilavastu, I watched the dancing colored dots of women heading home to their village for the evening. And I admired the beauty of their graceful stride, and feminine attires.

One unforeseen outcome of my trip to India, has been a radical change in the way I dress. Gone, the boring practicality of jeans, black Petit-Bateau tops, and neutral sweaters, that used to be my everyday uniform. Instead, I am finding great joy in emulating the effortless femininity of Indian women, adorning myself every morning, with a colorful Indian top and scarf to match, worn over a skirt and black leggings. I leave the best part for the end. Mindfully, I pick up the sandalwood mala bracelet I purchased in Bodhgaya, and I wrap it around my wrist, and savor for an instant, the sweetness of its subtle fragrance.  Utterly woman, I feel. I am now ready to start the day.

In the pool's locker room, an elderly woman compliments me on my skirt. "You are looking sharp today". I tell her about  my new resolution to dress like a girl, and how I ditched my old pants. She lights up. "My husband told me he prefers me in dresses. That was a long time ago, but I never followed up. You are giving me some ideas. How about bicycling with a dress? How do you manage?" No problem, I assure her, that's what the leggings are for. "Where can I get those?" She wants to know, she is on a mission now. "That was an important conversation", says she, as she heads out. 

Dressing nice is an act of love.


  1. This made me smile!

    It's wonderful that a certain vibrance and energy flowed through you as part of what you were wearing and that you were able to share that gift with someone else and help them out in what may seem like a small way...but it was probably more than that. I'm sure you made her day!

  2. Thank you Nate. Until my trip to India I never thought of outer beauty as a gift. Instead I had this idea of garments as frivolous and a drag to be dealt with every morning. It did not occur to me that gift of self also includes superficial layer.

    Of course, I don't know how you men relate to that one. But I would assume it is probably the same. Even the monks present beautifully in their robes.

  3. Okay now I want to see you in your beautiful attire! Picture please!

    I have often thought this ... the gift of beauty, how it manifests in the way we put ourselves together, the way we create our living spaces. I think there is something sacred in the careful attention to what is aesthetically pleasing. (It always lifts and calms my spirits)

    But there is always the background noise in my mind that says this pursuit is somehow frivolous or wasteful or worldly and "unspiritual" and there probably are levels of it that are. But I love your post "the gift of beauty" .

  4. I think it all comes down to intention. If it is about being mindful and sharing beauty, good. If it is about need to be admired and receiving attention, then not so good :)

  5. What a wonderful gift of beauty! Thanks for sharing it!


  6. Thanks Mike. I just had yet another conversation with other woman in pool's locker room about her giving up her jeans, and dressing up for a change. This time, brought upon my new yoga pants :)