I believe in beauty. Not the beauty advertised on the pages of fashion and other magazines, which display unattainable standards of physical beauty in front of us, but the beauty that comes from all of us and all around us.
One of the images that I most associate with beauty has nothing to do with visuals. Many years ago I attended a performance of the opera Otello at the Metropolitan Opera House. My mother and I were sitting in the orchestra section, way in the back of the auditorium. Through my binoculars I saw Maestro James Levine walk to the podium, greet the audience, and raise his baton. The first notes that emanated from the orchestra pit were so sublime that I could barely contain the beating of my heart. Plácido Domingo’s triumphant cry of “Exultate!” was something I will never forget.
I am not a religious person by any means, but another moment of great beauty for me was an experience I had at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. In the midst of a tour of the cathedral, a hush came over our group when a moment of prayer was announced. I think, but can’t be sure, that someone prayed the Our Father before things went back to normal. The serenity, peace, and contemplation I experienced in those brief seconds were a thing of beauty that I often fall back on when in need of a respite from the craziness of every day life.
The most intimate expression of beauty I’ve experienced was the joy and privilege of seeing my nearly six-year old nephew Max and one-year old niece Mia barely minutes after they were born. As they grow up, I will always be able to go back to that moment when I first saw their wrinkled, pink, tiny bodies move and welcome life. No matter how old they are, the beauty of that first moment is something I will treasure until the day I die.
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