Living Among Beauty

So that’s the scene of my downtown home today as I drove home from work. Beautiful blue clear sky, 65 degrees, beach on my left, snow capped mountains on my right. Yes, LA has clear skies, AND mountains. What’s not to like?

On Sunday night, I was invited to a holiday party at the hottest club and restaurant in LA called Privilege where Paris, Britney, Justin and the gang all mix it up. They weren’t there, but another 500 of the hottest people you’ve ever seen were (I obviously was not invited for this reason ha). This was the one thing that amazed me when I first moved to Los Angeles, and it continues to be the thing that both thrills and intimidates me. There is no city in the world with this many beautiful people. The guys are chiseled, ripped and have lean toned bodies. The women are beautiful, tanned, thin and perfectly shaped. Before moving to LA, I thought that people like this were just models or actors. Here I have discovered that they are not at all. They are just normal people … well, as normal as Southern California gets. But wonderful weather, an outdoors culture, Swedish and Danish genes, and healthy food have created gods of beauty everywhere. I barely know anyone in Los Angeles who is overweight, I know no one disabled, and most of my social circle would be considered very attractive anywhere else. My students would all seem to qualify for The OC or America’s Hottest Model.

So what might you ask is the downside to living among so much beauty? It cetainly has positive dimensions. I can find peace and great satisfaction in the midst of a stressful day by just looking at the mountains or coast around me. And I’m not complaining about being in a city full of beautiful people. Anyone that would complain about that is just jealous or dishonest.

But living amidst beauty … instead of taking vacations to it … has its costs as well. It’s difficult to find vacation spots that are any more beautiful than where I call home or the view out of my office window. I went to Hawaii in May, and I was like, “Sooo …?” It was beautiful, but arguably not any more beautiful than Laguna Beach or Malibu on a gorgeous clear day like today. And how does any place compete with Santa Barbara? So, vacations are harder to plan after living here. Are there that many places that are that much more enticing? So maybe there are good reasons to live in Texas after all (just kidding ya’ll).

And living with beautiful people is not as thrilling as it may seem either. If we could just appreciate beauty but not have to own it for ourselves, maybe it would be ok. But we are envious of beauty, and we want it for ourselves. And so I can’t look at hot guys without comparing myself. I used to think it was just me that felt that way. But then I’ve learned that the hot guys and gals also compare themselves with others they consider even hotter. So it’s a never ending cycle of frustration and jealousy, and finally discontent with one’s own self It even affects dating, which seems to be largely missing here in LA on any serious or long term scale. Why? Because when there’s 1 million hot people around, why settle for someone that’s only somewhat hot? If you can date Mr. ripped abs and he has money, then why settle for someone with money but no abs? For example. Or for someone with a good heart, but no money or no abs?(that would be me) ha.

So I’m not complaining about beauty. I love it, and I’m not sure I can thrive in cities, churches, workplaces or in relationships that don’t value it. But it has its place, and it has its consequences when there is too much of it. It’s also good to remember that the whole world doesn’t look like this.

That’s why you need some average and some ugly every now and then. It makes the beauty that much better, and then you can love it without needing to have it.

Amy Grant once was asked what her favorite color is. She said, “Black. Because without it, you would never know color.”

I think I’ll go back over to my window.


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