Monday, December 28, 2015

Beautiful People

By Janet M. Shlaes, Ph.D.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depth. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Beautiful people develop over time and the effect of this evolution is spectacular. When I was an adolescent, someone told me that, for the first half of your life, you have the face that you were born with and then you ultimately wind up with the face that you’ve earned. Many years later, in a movie theater, the wisdom of this statement hit me in a powerful way. My Sunday afternoon plans had fallen through and I spontaneously decided to see a matinee movie at a local second run movie theater. I arrived with plenty of time to spare and walked into a brightly lit theater. Looking around, I first noticed that I was the youngest person there by about forty years and I was not so young at the time. I quickly surveyed the faces of my fellow movie viewers and was startled at my discovery. All of the faces were wrinkled with the ravages of time and life-experience, but a few faces stood out in a powerful way. These outlier faces commanded my attention; they appeared to be internally lit and emitted a soft glow which could only be described as luminescent. The discrepancy between these faces and the majority was noteworthy and I found myself wondering what was responsible for this difference. No one reaches a ripe old age beyond the eighties without having experienced life’s many ups and downs. Yet, these few individuals appeared to have been polished by their experiences instead of being tarnished. So many years later, I can still feel the impact of the light and grace in their faces. Beautiful people evolve over time and the result is spectacular.

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