“Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound, your whole body is full of light; but when it is not sound, your body is full of darkness.” ~Luke 11:34 RSV
In my October 8 post, “Scales Falling From My Eyes,” I shared how my former students enthusiasm about seeing me again and sharing about the difference I had made in their lives led me to go back to my motel room, look in the mirror, and say to myself, “Linda, I think it’s time you started looking at yourself differently.”
When the student is ready, the teacher appears
I find it interesting and awe inspiring how the Universe conspires to help us grow. Almost as soon as I said those words, I was led to listen to Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. I was aware of Susan’s book at least three years ago and knew I wanted to read it, but somehow I didn’t get to it until just the right moment to be able to garner its wisdom for me.
Teacher Number 1
In Quiet, Susan addresses how our society moved from being a “culture of character” to a “culture of personality.” Whereas we once valued good deeds performed when no one was looking, we now value magnetism and charisma. Instead of Abraham Lincoln as our ideal, we now idolize movie stars with just the “right” facial features and body types.
Listening to Quiet, I heard Cain point out just how significant appearance is in our society. That has become abundantly clear in a most hurtful way in our recent presidential election. Our success in life is judged by the standards set for supposedly “the most beautiful people in the world.”
Awakening to the effects of our “culture of personality’s” influence on me, I didn’t like what I saw. I didn’t like it that I felt the sting of viewing myself negatively because I fall short of our society’s standards of beauty. I didn’t like it that I look longingly at the women who do possess our society’s standards of magnatism and charisma. I didn’t like the difficulty I have seeing beauty in those who don’t fit our cultural standards.
I wanted to rid myself of this scourge.
Teacher Number 2
In my October 29 post, I wrote about meeting Rick Guidotti at the Myotonic Dystrophy Conference held in Cincinnati on October 22. As an award-winning fashion photographer, Rick has photographed women and men who are considered the most magnetic and charismatic among us … our culture’s most beautiful. But he grew frustrated with being told who was beautiful and who he had to photograph. Because he sees beauty in diversity and finds it in places where others wouldn’t even think to look, he changed his life and is making an enormous difference in the lives of many others.
Because he SEES beauty in everyone
The mission Rick committed to through Positive Exposure is to transform the way the world views beauty. Wow, do we need that today. He wants to change public perceptions of people living with genetic, physical, intellectual and behavioral differences. One out of five children in the United States is born with a disability making the need for society to understand and respect children and adults living with these differences critical. Positive Exposure’s educational and advocacy programs reach around the globe to promote a more inclusive, compassionate world where differences are celebrated.
Rick’s book, Change How You See, See How You Change features over 50 genetic syndromes through portraiture and personal narrative, giving expression to each individual’s heart and soul. It invites readers to see beyond diagnoses to the humanity we all share.
Thank you, Rick, for changing how I see.
I look forward to seeing how I change.
Now that my eyes opened to my faulty way of seeing, some synchronicities (The Divine’s way of remaining anonymous) began popping up all over:
“There’s incredible amounts of raw human and natural beauty happening everywhere.” ~Cory Richards
Sir Elton John speaking about his modernist photography collection:
“I was seeing through different eyes. I saw beauty that I’d never seen before.” Sir Elton John
“I’m going to make everything around me beautiful. That will be my life.”
Read about Heidi’s experience finding beauty in the midst of a terminal cancer diagnosis in her memoir:
Then I picked up one of my favorite spiritual books, The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram: Nine Faces of the Soul by Sandra Maitri, and read this:
“Yes, I see who you believe you are, but let me show you what and who is truly beneath those beliefs. Let me show you your jeweled possibilities.” ~Sandra Maitri
I am beginning to see my jeweled possibilities.