“The truth, however ugly in itself, is always curious and beautiful to seekers after it.”
I donate nearly half my closet once every couple of months. When some people notice this about me, they say what a wonderful thing this is, how I waste not and give what can be used again to those in need. Others sit up a bit straighter and say they should do that, too. I’m sure there are some who quietly wonder why I bother donating when I could just throw the clothes away; how much easier it is to put your used items on the front door step for faceless trash collectors to take it away for me, instead of dragging it all out to donation bins far away from my place.
But every time I donate, I feel a little ashamed. Because I recognize that this act of donating is just my way of trying to find a cover up for something I should be addressing at the root. The main problem is that there are so many things that are cheap and beautiful, so I am tempted and then I buy. Then after a few uses, I regret. Clothes that are pretty on the shelf but cannot withstand a couple of wears and so we throw them out soon after purchasing. The unworn articles pile up while we stand in front of it all and bemoan that we’ve nothing to wear. Snacks wrapped up in plastic in the convenience stores that look tasty, but after a few bites we recognize (again and again) how unsatisfying and unhealthy they are. Eaten once, twice, a hundred times, until we can’t hide the fact that we don’t fit in our jeans. Makeup that cost little monetarily but then over time our skin pays the real burden.
Cheap and beautiful. It looks nice. It costs little. It bears great consequences in the long run.
I went to a nice event some time ago. There were real, elegantly arranged flowers as the centerpieces and a five course meal. Live music and generously poured white wine. It was lovely. It was fun to be a part of it as a guest. Of course, I wasn’t the only guest in attendance; there were celebrities, other models, media people, entertainers and businessmen. Some people wore long, sweeping dresses while others came in t-shirts and artfully torn jeans. There were a lot of artists, in all areas of work. In the midst of this odd glamor I sat at my table, sipping my wine and looking around the whole place, wondering partly why I was there. I then overheard the bits of a conversation. This is all I heard;
“Cheap and beautiful. That’s what we like, am I right?”
The group I was somewhat eavesdropping on had been having some harmless, light-hearted talk. But this one statement changed the meaning of the previous conversation. I was watching the speaker as the words came out of his mouth. I was watching the way he laughed at his own poor joke and innuendo. I watched the way others around him responded. One pretended not to hear. One said, “well…,” his singular word expressing his disagreement. A few smiled. It was like a scene out of an outdated 1950s drama, where the men stood together with cigars and glasses of cognac, hands in their suit pockets, none looking directly at the other as they talked. All might be decent, might treat their wives well. They might be upstanding in the 1950s society and might keep up with the Joneses. Then one man says to the others something just vulgar enough to be amusing and just concealed enough to be allowed in the current company, and he nudges his pals a bit to make them laugh, too. Isn’t it funny, he’s saying, isn’t it amusing. The social pressure to laugh along and brush it off is so faint; it’s not the right time to address his barely hidden, repulsive mindset towards women; it disappears in an instance and the conversation moves on.
I watched this group of men talk, glancing over the top of my wine glass. I know who the speaker is and I know what he’s like. I know his reputation and I know how I feel about it.
Cheap and beautiful. That’s what we like.
Now, I’m not trying to vilify any particular group of people; but I’ve seen beautiful faces and pristine reputations, and then seen the cheapness that lies underneath the veneers. They’re like wooden figurines hastily painted over with fake gold and sold to people like priceless items. It’s not my place to tell you who they are; I think you already know them in your own life. I’m sad when I think that there are so many people looking up to other human beings, imagining that the lights and sparkle equal trustworthiness. I hope we won’t be dazzled and mistake this shine for real light.
Hercule Poirot is a personal favorite character of mine. Written by the great dame of mystery herself, Agatha Christie, the Belgium detective Poirot solves mysteries and after meticulously following along the trail of misdeeds and murders, he discovers the truth. In the end, the truth will always come out.
“Understand this,” Hercule Poirot says in ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’, “I mean to arrive at the truth. The truth, however ugly in itself, is always curious and beautiful to seekers after it.”
Sometimes it takes a long time. But I really believe that if you are looking for the truth, you will find it. People without substance and cheap things that looked so beautiful before will be seen for what they really are made up of; Distractions, fears, things to hide, and emptiness. Nothing at all.