October 8, 2015

Two Faces of Beauty

submitted by Amara Charles Back

mirror-effect-a-1You’d think the choice between beauty and something unattractive would be simple – just nudge closer to what feels nice and avoid what you don’t like.

But have you ever noticed how right behind what attracts you most comes something that does not? It’s as if beauty has a secret twin that pulls you closer to what you want, and then, once you’re enchanted, shows you the other side. Don’t think of it as beauty = good, ugly = bad; really, because what is unattractive to you helps you look past surface beauty and opens you to being nourished by deep beauty.

It’s not only that you can’t have one without the other, both are perceptions that we react to all the time. Sometimes we avoid beauty, sometimes we melt into it. Sometimes we cringe away from something ugly, sometimes we can’t take our eyes off it. Beauty and the unattractive are inseparable, and the more you see both sides as one,  the less you’ll be baffled or blindsided when the other face appears.

The battle between beauty and the unattractive is really a matter of how you engage with what you perceive. If you only want to see the good,  you can’t discern the best way to relate. If you avoid everything awful it will find its way inside you, and if you keep stirring up unattractive things, you will ache for beauty.

Let’s say you’ve met someone you’re really attracted to. Of course you want the good bits; being liked, admired, held and so on. All your attention dives towards the Beauty. You might be aroused, bedazzled, intimidated or super charged with love. Either way, the battle begins. If you draw the curtain over anything that doesn’t fit the beautiful projection you cast onto this person, eventually, the other side of Beauty comes knocking at your door.

We tend to call what is unattractive the shadow, but most of the time, there are gems  hidden inside what appears unattractive. It’s never fun looking into your shadow (parts of life you can’t, or wont or don’t want to see). But looking at the dark side of the coin has one great advantage – the more you know of your own shadow the more you can protect your self.  In a way, if you can see what’s unattractive in yourself, you can see it in others.

I just returned from a visit with my family, where, as you might imagine, the battle between beauty and the unattractive reared its pretty little head. There was a moment I reacted to one of my favorite battles: being controlled. (according to my mother it was much more than a moment 🙂  I got to see just how unattractive I can get and how much I hide to stay in control. But mothers have a knack for finding that shadow you left on the floor.

Now for the Beauty. For me, visiting my family is always a sobering re-calibration, a reckoning with my roots. It’s my ingrained, established, handed-down tendencies versus my emerging attempts at new ways of being. I get to see where I react emotionally and where I don’t.

I used to say for example that my mother has ‘ostrich medicine’; meaning she has this ability to utterly ignore, and curtly dismiss whatever she doesn’t care to discuss.

Now, as her personality ripens, and my need to be accepted fades, I sometimes see a kind of motherly glow flickering around her. I realize that while her way of ignoring me fueled my rage as a child, now I also see she taught me that it’s best not to look too closely or to talk about certain things at the wrong time. Or to dwell on disappointments. As a young girl I judged her avoidance as cowardly weakness. Now I think it’s sometimes wise.

Even her tendency to annihilate what she deems insignificant can be taken both ways; it’s the same strength I’ve inherited to slice through the dark unconsciousness of my own shadows.

I’ve often heard women joke about doing everything possible to be different than their Moms, only to hear her voice come barging out at the worst possible moments. But the ‘dreaded voice’ is not her only weapon. If you listen more carefully you’ll hear her wisdom too.  Although I wouldn’t say this to her, I can sometimes hear my mother’s voice embedded through all my moans, my laughter, my intelligence and my tears. She gives my own voice depth; sometimes she laughs at me, sometimes with me and it’s both beautiful and unattractive. It’s beyond gratitude, it’s just so.

In beauty

Amara Charles

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Helen says

Beautifully written! Mother-daughter relationships can be the toughest to see through the ‘unattractiveness’ as we are so easily triggered from years of imprinting. Thank you for sharing the wisdom.

Amara says

Aloha Helen,
yes,I think our Mom imprints are the deepest, and the most touching, and the most rewarding to find our way through.And the most challenging!!! thanks for writing!!

kelly clampitt says

The timing for visiting your Mom was impeccable and enabled this teaching….I too can see my Mother’s shadow or rather her lack of shadow in her being overly agreeable and not holding people to their word preferring not to make waves….there is definite wisdom in learning when to just keep your mouth shut and now for me learning when to speak up more for self respect and to let my beauty out!

Amara says

Hi Kelly,
Ah, yes, being too passive, too nice and too agreeable, such a lovely shadow, don’t you think? But the shadow always makes the most amazing detours. This is why it can be a disaster to avoid looking into your shadow too little or too much. I know you, so yes, I agree, speaking up and speaking more about how you are actually feeling is really necessary. Keeping quiet sometimes is right. Speaking up and speaking loud sometimes is right. Often, speaking in the right time, and in the right tone is best. But I do not think that over-calculating how you are speaking is the right answer. With this situation with my Mother and sister, it actually carried on a bit further. My sister (bless her heart), couldn’t resist telling my mother something private about my moment of weakness, and my mother called to blast me with the details after I got home. At first, I was upset, ready to blast my sister for her indiscretion, and her choice to bond with my mother over me, but then I thought what if I don’t blast back in anger? What if I wait for an opening? I did wait, and the opening came right away on the phone the next day when I was on speaker phone with both of them. Rather than personally going into the thing and stirring up the hornets, I said, did you read my article? I said it was about what happened,and they were on this article in about 5 minutes. (people can’t resist reading about themselves). Guess what? They laughed! As we talked about in Shakti Queen, I used humor to count coop. (anger and rage provoking tyrant). This is not easy to do. You have to resist the habit of lashing back, and you have to pause to regain composure so you can wait for the opening…this is way different than avoiding, stuffing it or running away from conflict). How do you know if you have counted coop over a tyrant (someone who can push your buttons)? You GAIN energy. By the end of the conversation, my mom, my sister and I were laughing and sharing warm small talk. It’s all I really wanted all along; to get closer. I do not know if this applies to you, but I know you have a lovely sense of humor that you can use.

You see, in this situation, I actually got my mother (maybe for the first time), to reflect on how our shadows intertwine. If I tried to approach this topic directly, it would have been dismissed entirely! This being said, being clever like this is NOT always the way to go! It happened as much by accident as by ‘plan’. Really, it was about following my gut, my instincts and NOT reacting to my own or other’s emotions. Most of the time, our proper instincts are clouded by old habits of reactions.

Now, because we know each other, I’d love to hear a story or two about how you gained energy after a conflict, confrontation; where you clearly gained energy rather than lost it afterwards.

Thanks for sharing Kelly
In beauty