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What Beauty Feels Like

“Is beauty something to be observed coolly and rationally or is it something dangerously involving?” For my birthday one year, friends gave me a copy of Umberto Eco’s History of Beauty.  The book contemplates definitions of beauty from classical antiquity to modern times.  Concepts are offered from Socrates and Plato to Hollywood; images range from Cleopatra to Naomi Campbell; and extrinsic beauty is defined in artistic forms from da Vinci to Velasquez to Picasso. Considering it all, I settled upon the later part of this query, ardently affirming that beauty is a consequence of emotion and indeed, dangerously involving. As I have traveled around, I have considered my own reactions to things deemed wondrous and, I have come to realize that I do know what beauty feels like. 


Here is my testimony:

  • I secured a seat, front and center, at Café Marley, where the window panels were fully opened and exposed the view. A chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc sits on my table and the enchanting view of the sunlit Pyramid de Louvre renders me to a dreamy existence. Upon finally returning unto myself, I depart, rounding the corner to the exquisiteness of Le Jardin de Tuileries. I was captivated by this perfect afternoon.

  • The champagne reception at the Hermitage amidst Van Gogh, Degas, Renoir, Monet, Gaugin and Pissarro, I thought was monumental enough. However, as I romanticized, emerging as the lead Mariinsky ballerina during the evening’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, I longed for the evening to never end.

  • There is a seemingly abandoned and worn red rowboat resting on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in Mykonos. It sits alone across the harbor from the speedboats and small yachts. I wonder what its story is. Where has it been and what tales does it hide? I’m intrigued by what might have been.

  • The gondolas come and go. They rest. Passengers of all sorts –tourists, residents, lovers are transported from place to place and the pace is slow and leisurely. The view from Venice’s Ponte Rialto is entrancing and euphoric. 

  • Feeling bewitched, I stood in the tower of storybook-like, Urquhart Castle situated on the mythical grounds around Loch Ness in Inverness, Scotland. My subconscious whispers, “don’t break the spell!” 

  • Jubilant and exhilarated I reached the peak of Mount Sainte Victoire, en Provence. The world was beneath me and my physical capabilities proved to have been misjudged. Mission accomplished!

  • Canoeing down the Grand Canal; strolling through the UNESCO heritage gardens and the extravagant palace apartments and halls; and, being entertained by the Versailles Garden, Lighting and Fireworks Show and the Seranades Royals Dance Performance in the Hall of Mirrors were mundane occurrences in the lives of the Royals.  This 12 hour adventure rendered me speechless, awed by the whirlwind of fantasy and finery. 

  • Marveled and astounded by the Dali-Joies Exhibition in Figueres of 37 unique and aesthetically spectacular jewels of all sizes, shapes and precious materials, I asked myself, “What kind of mind could deliver such genius?  Only that possessed by Salvador Dali!

  • I cast off my sandals and dug my toes into the wet, blond sands of the Persian Gulf.  Dubai’s Burge Al Arab, the pristine beach, and the jewel toned waters surrounded me. I was paralyzed amidst this apparition.

  • There was an exclamation from me of disbelief. Next, a quiver.  The scene was a herd of the nearly extinct Arabian Oryx, grazing and lazing on the desert sand, unafraid and confident in its unsullied habitat. Sign of relief- nature reigns and preservation of wildlife transcends.  How privileged I felt as its witness. 

  • Standing in the Arabian Desert, though the sun emanated unimaginable heat, I experienced unforgettable glee and delight.

  • Sixty thousand orchids were amassed from all over the world in the National Orchid Garden of Singapore. They symbolized royalty; signified goodwill and harmony among nations; and represented the nations, themselves. In shades of canary, amber, carmine, fuchsia, and white, along with green foliage, there were 1,000 species, 2,000 hybrids, in expert display.  Who wouldn’t react as I did with one gasp after another?

  • I close my eyes and I visualize the view of the sailboats below in the Gulf of Naples from the cliffs of Capri and my heart flutters in remembrance.

  • A memory from a couple of decades ago remains the most impactful one- a carefree and joyous vacation experience across five European countries with Mom. Seeing her like that, for the first time, was absolutely blissful.


Convinced? In reality, there are absolutely no rules that govern the perception of beauty- its personal and, for sure, its pursuit can lead one anywhere. For me, beauty is a feeling of intrigue, captivation, longing, entrancement, euphoria, or exhilaration. It’s bewitching, astounding, and gleeful and, it makes my heart flutter… Beauty stirs my emotions and that is tremendously uncontrollable.  Definitely dangerous!

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