The Daily Stoic for March 17th. “The beauty of choice”:
“You are not your body and hair-style, but your capacity for choosing well. If your choices are beautiful, so too will you be.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 3.1.39b–40a
Beauty is something subjective. In spite of the efforts to formalize what is beautiful and what is not, beauty means something different for everybody.
However, we live in the era of appearances. Of perfect, fake digital worlds, like Instagram. There, you can find youngsters spending money they don’t have trying to become influencers, girls talking about what being a developer is while showing off her bodies in ridiculous outfits, and boys posing half-naked at the gym to earn pennies for advertising sportswear.
You have these TV reality shows where they take “ugly fat outcasts” and turn them into a “beautiful people”. The process involves putting them on a diet, covering them with a fancy dress and adding of make up. Bam! Instant beauty.
The meaning of beauty has been so commercially tainted that it has almost lost its feeling.
The Beauty Of Choice
“I have discovered that it is enough when a single note is beautifully played.” — Arvo Pärt
It’s ironic that this view of beauty coexists with this trendy bullshit of “Beauty is on the inside”, “everyone is beautiful”, etc. Like trying to convince the world that you need to be beautiful -according to their concept of beauty- or have the right to be beautiful.
For me, beauty is listening to “Fur Alina” by Arvo Pärt and having goosebumps when a single note is played.
It’s waking up after a night snow storm in Riga, opening the windows and finding out there’s a wonderful, sunny day out there. It’s the feel of the sunbeam on your skin.
Beauty is being at a hospital in Riga for hours, hearing an elderly woman asking for help to sit up in a language you don’t understand and, when you help her, seeing her smile in gratitude.
I think that last one actually refers to the kind of beauty Epictetus mentions in this passage. Making choices that help others, and make our small contribution to make the world a better place.
In the world of reality shows and Instagram, the meaning of “Beauty” has been redefined to represent an illusory concept based on purely commercial and visual aspects.
However, today’s Daily Stoic, “The Beauty Of Choice”, reminds us that beauty also means making beautiful choices to make the world a little bit more beautiful. That has very little to do with your physical appearance, what you wear of your make up.