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Robin Williams was fond of saying, “Spring is nature’s way of saying “let’s party!”” It is easy to notice and appreciate beauty when it is new, fantastically blooming, and bursting with color. And even then, one can sometimes forget and habituate.

Marcus Aurelius in his private diaries, Meditations, reminds himself to appreciate the beauty of nature in all of its phases, and especially at the moment of its utmost ripeness. This most ephemeral phase in the life of an organism occurs when it is transitioning from full blown maturity to death. Marcus reminds himself to appreciate even the imperfect beauty of nature as it ages:

Watch well the grace and charm, that belong even to the consequents of nature’s work.  The cracks for instance and crevices in bread-crust, though in a sense flaws in the baking, yet have a fitness of their own and a special stimulus to tickle the appetite. Figs again, just at perfection gape.  In ripe olives the very nearness of decay adds its own beauty to the fruit…  Meditations Book III

Marcus then continues with his metaphors finally arriving at the appreciation of the beauty and loveliness in the faces of the aging. Diverse forms of beauty all “appeal to the soul” and nourish it so that one “attains deeper feeling and insight for the working of the universe,” he wrote. Beauty feeds the soul. And it doesn’t have to be perfect; the imperfect is also beautiful, and perhaps more touching through its flaws.

Interestingly the most successful individuals in the beauty industry have not succeeded because of their perfect beauty, but rather have been noticed precisely due to their perceived quirkiness and imperfection. The model Kate Moss and her gap teeth are a case in point- her apparent disadvantage becoming her very signature. In the typical Aurelian way, the weakness becomes the strength! The lesson here is to accept and appreciate your own beauty too, imperfection and all.

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