Beauty not just for the well-heeled

Published in the Courier Mail 2 March 07

A few weeks ago, I bought a fabulous pair of shoes — red, shiny and very, very high!
They are not exactly practical, and are far from sensible, but they’re wonderful — and have elicited a surprising number of admiring comments. Now I would be the first to admit that things such as shoes aren’t particularly important in the grand scheme of things.
The shoes we wear are in no way a measure of the person we are.
Nevertheless, it has been a really interesting experience.
I’ve even been surprised at the spring they have added to my step — once I learnt to walk in them, of course. I think it’s because there’s not a chance that they exist for sensibility — but because they are beautiful.
Beauty is a funny thing. In one way, we are obsessed with it — when it relates to people. There are those who make a fortune precisely because they are physically beautiful.
We worship external perfection with entire industries simultaneously making us feel inadequate, while being supported by our dollars, as we hope we can look better. It’s our unhealthy obsession. And yet, the opposite extreme is just as unhealthy.
We can get so driven by the need to be efficient, to be practical and useful that we scorn the idea of beauty in place of utility. We get so focused on achieving and getting things done that beauty isn’t just relegated to the bottom of the list — it doesn’t even make the cut.
This may make us highly efficient, but it doesn’t nourish the soul.
We were meant to live with beauty. We were designed to allow it a place in our world, not as master, but as servant. Our lives should be a place where beauty lives and breathes — infusing the practical with a sense of delight and joy.
We don’t have to measure everything in a utilitarian sense, whether it is economically or otherwise. Beauty can be purpose enough.
It would be a mistake though to simply understand beauty in one sense, for beauty can be found in so many manifestations. A flower cut from the garden can help us appreciate beauty. Time taken with friends, for no purpose other than enjoying each other’s company, is a thing of beauty.
A child’s misshapen handiwork, a fresh batch of biscuits, and even a pair of great high heels — all of these things can add beauty to our life.
For each of us it is different.
For some, the time spent gardening, cultivating and coaxing life from the earth can be enjoying beauty — and yet others dread the thought.
The secret is learning to look for that which reveals beauty to you, and make a place for it in your heart, and in your diary. Of course, there are some things we all agree are beautiful — a kind word, when undeserved; forgiveness, when unearned; love, unconditional. If these are absent, our pursuit of beauty will always leave us wanting, for a heart that doesn’t contain beauty can never truly embrace it.
What is it that nurtures your soul? What beauty adds the song to your day? If we don’t take the time to find out, we become devoid of life, replaced simply by duty.
It’s never too late or too hard.
Dale E Turner said: “Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.” And, I’d add, perhaps a pair of great high heels — just waiting to be found.
Ruth Limkin