I was looking for a better word than "stare" for how I view beauty, or more accurately, what it does to me. I've always been fascinated by aesthetics, especially according to mass-media ideals. As a child, I could spot the most beautiful woman in the grocery store and strike up a conversation with her. My dad liked to take me shopping. She and I would talk about any number of things, usually beyond the scope of four-year-old conversation. I was known for pointing to pictures of Dolly Parton on the tabloid covers and saying things like, "She's pretty." My parents thought I was saying that she looks pretty, when I was really saying that she is pretty; the Barbie doll-shaped feminine "ideal" of modern beauty. I was trying to figure out why.
I've written about this before. I'm just repeating another mantra. Though mantras recited aloud supposedly lose their power; my aim is obviously more public. I didn't use the appropriate word. I used to think I could catch sight of something beautiful, perhaps in the corner of my eye. I was wrong. Beauty catches me. And the word is "transfixed." I am held by it. There are certain physical sensations that underlie the involuntary; hunger and thirst, for example. Eating fulfills the gnawing sensation of hunger we all feel, a feeling which almost never subsides completely. Likewise, staring transfixed at the face of a beautiful girl feeds something deeper. It's not a primal lust; there's no will to ownership. There is only the need to look more, to behold, to admire and memorize. Who is that strange man, and why is he staring at me? What is he thinking about? It's just me, and I'm not planning to kidnap you. I'm thinking about nothing, nothing but the planes of your nose, the moisture of your eyes, and the arch of your brow. It's a wonderful Zen place, an everything-in-oneness, and is totally without threat to your well-being.
Beauty falls in many forms, like rain. Sometimes, someone will say something or just react in a way that seems beautiful, and that can catch me, too. Honesty is beautiful. I've fallen in love with moments of frankness. I can mourn the death of a few seconds, but not for too long. Just as I've started to settle to the ground, a beautiful breeze will up and spin me twirling through the swirling air.