Two Kinds of Beauty

I was at an ice rink last week, watching people of all shapes & sizes strap on skates & push out onto the ice.

Amongst the chaotic mass of wobbling legs & flailing arms there emerged two young girls. They were like two serene swans gliding among squawking ducks on a pond. Both of them flew across the ice like they were born with skates on, but their skating styles could not have been more different.

The first, who could have not been more than eight, possessed extraordinary skill. She was performing jumps & camels with such precision & beauty that I was astounded. However, as I watched her for half an hour, I realized her movements were more than just precise. It became obvious that she was going through a predetermined sequence of moves. She was doing her daily practice drills, even while she was on vacation. She was indeed beautiful, a beauty born out of hundreds of hours of intense work & dedication.

There was another young girl that was beautiful in an entirely different way on the ice. She darted & glided, turning on a dime, chasing & teasing her brother. She was untouchable: flying across the ice wherever her heart led, with an effortless fluidity that showed that her skates & her soul were fully one. She was born to skate, & the beauty of her gift was a joy to behold.

So I pondered, gazing at two kinds of beauty, one borne out of determination & focus, the other a natural expression of a gift. These two girls were a microcosm of the two kinds of beauty present within all of us. We all have “left brain” beauty, beauty that comes to fruition after long hours of study or practice or just patient determination. All of us also have “right brain” beauty, that which is simply an extension of our innate nature, heart, soul, & body.

But we don’t need to artificially separate these two. They can work as one. The skater with natural gifts can grow & develop them even more with instruction & practice. The focused, determined skater will be even more beautiful on the ice when she lets her heart flow free.

So it is with you and me. Whether it is skating or writing or cooking or working or loving, we can be both art & skill, both work & play, both spontaneous & planned. It is when we embrace both sides of ourselves & live fully in them that we will show the world all the beauty that we have to offer.

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