Yesterday morning, I got to explore all types of beauty while driving to work.
Some days, I spend my drives to work marveling about things or having deep, philosophical conversations with my gods. On other days, I just ignore everything while I focus a little too much on the fact that I am driving. Yesterday, I chose to focus on the fact that Hetheru is in my life and more often than not, I don’t know why. I know the original reason, but she has stuck around through all of my sobbing, whining, and refusing to do what she wanted of me (and doing it anyway under the mantle of her sister-self, Sekhmet). But she is the complete antithesis to who I am, honestly. She collects things and they’re not like two or three bookcases of books or sets of divination cards out the wazoo. She collects things like beauty products, and sparkly rocks, and seashells. None of these things, if you look at me or even know me, are things that would even remotely equate to who I am, in any form. So, why does she hang around? What’s the point?
While mulling over the fact that I have a main deity in my life who has never really, overtly, explained why she’s here, I began catching flickers of color from the corner of my eyes. No big deal – I was driving and most of the area that I was driving through is flush with spring’s first blush. However, green and white and pink do not equate to gold and red. So, as I turned my head to glance into my passenger seat, thinking I was going crazy, there was a goddess sitting there. She stared at me with gentle eyes and she was… breath-taking. It was as though I was looking at that man who got kicked out of that Middle Eastern country for being too beautiful? Only instead of a male body, it was a female body. And she was wearing a white, thin sheath with golden bangles down her wrist that clacked together when she moved her wrist.
And her movements… they were every ounce of grace that I had ever seen in ballet performances. She moved with an economical intent, making sure that each movement of her arm or positioning of her body was bringing her more and more fully into focus. As I kept glancing over to see her, I couldn’t help but realize just how beautiful she actually was. I had envisioned a perfect paradigm of earthly and unearthly beauty, but I was getting something that tugged at heart-strings and made me feel oh, so inadequate. With each second she was in my car, she shimmered from corporeal to thought-form and back again. I was pretty sure I was crazy, so it stood to reason that she would start talking.
“You’re beautiful, too, you know,” she says softly. Her bangles slide up and down her arm as she reaches out to touch my forearm.
I glance down at the paunch leftovers of bearing a child and of not bothering to work out, of eating what I want, and usually not caring. “I hardly think we could both be classified as beautiful. You are the epitome therein. I am just… something that generally alludes to a feminine splendor that doesn’t deliver and you are the actuality of that splendor.”
She giggles. “You are beautiful. You bear the hallmark, the badges of creating life and bringing it into this world.”
I touch that paunch and think about the nine months of horror and of joy at having my son growing in there. I think about the days when his kicking and tumbling about were the most exciting things in the world. I think back to the bitchiness and grouch of demanding him out every five minutes in the last month. “Being a mom… that’s not beauty. Butterflies are beautiful. Flowers are beautiful.”
“You are wrong. You are beautiful because you are a mom. You are beautiful because you wear the badges of honor for being a mom.” I mull that over for a minute while she says, “And you are beautiful because you are human. All humans are beautiful.”
“Hardly,” I retort.
“If they have a heart, then they are beautiful,” she says.
I thought about this statement for a long while. What was it about humans that could equate them all to being beautiful, no matter the outer shell they reside within, if they had a heart? By her statement, one could assume that no matter the doings that may stain that heart, then a human was still beautiful. Or, maybe it was because we were given free will to preserve a heart that does not weigh more than the feather of ma’at, then we are beautiful because of that? I honestly tried to pick the meaning. Was it just because I had a heart that made me beautiful? Or was it because I could make decisions to preserve the perfection of that heart so that the feather weighs as much as my ib?
In all honesty, such philosophical tripe isn’t normally my repertoire as I drive the forty-five minutes to work in the morning. But, Hetheru – and the other netjer, to be honest – have this habit of forcing your mind outside of its usual trappings. Instead of mulling over what to make for dinner when I got home and what my first plan (that never ends up happening) to get moving on when I got to work, I was trying to figure out what it was about humans having a heart that made them all beautiful. In a manner of speaking, I got it. It was a message of not paying attention to what’s on the outside, but what is on the inside. But, she was saying all humans and not all of them were nice people with good hearts.
Then again, maybe she didn’t think those kinds of people even had hearts anymore.
Or, maybe, once a human being stains their heart with a failure to live in ma’at, they are forfeit in her thought processes.
I went back to the whole being beautiful because we had hearts thing, trying to figure out what it was about my heart that made me beautiful. Or what it was about Joe Blow’s heart that would make him beautiful.
“You’re over-thinking this,” she says to me, finally. She breaks my concentration with her words. She points to a man in the distance. He wears a day-glo green shirt as he rides a mower, doing his job in the morning sunlight. “He is beautiful. Now tell me why.”
I had no clue. I had no idea why a man, mowing a lawn and doing his job, was beautiful.
“He is providing. Providing for oneself and one family – that is beautiful.”
If I was reading into this conversation correctly, then she was telling me that what we do because of our hearts is what makes us beautiful.
“You’re still over-thinking this,” she says. Sighing, she turns to look out into the world around us. We are driving down past the correctional facility. There is a giant, barren field of grass on the right and the soccer field the man is mowing on our left. She points at the barren field, “That is beautiful, too. It has a heart and it is beautiful.”
“All nature is beautiful – wild or ordered,” I reply, on much firmer ground here.
“That building is beautiful,” she says to me. It is the face of a mechanic. It is brown with white lettering. There are cars littering the front parking lot and the sign out front is in some need of repair. It is quaint, to me, more than beautiful but I love architecture – all kinds. I am on even firmer ground here. I agree that architecture and that building is beautiful. Smiling, she points to a yellow sign. “That sign is beautiful.”
I am tempted to stop the car, but I do not. The sign is that glittery yellow they use for road signs. In the center of it, there is a man on a horse. A forewarning that we are entering a countryside where people own horses and ride them in public places. “That sign is beautiful because… why?”
“Humans made it with a purpose. That purpose was for good – they wanted to let people know that there were horses and riders in the area and to be aware so that no harm will come to anyone. That purpose is a good purpose. That sign is beautiful.”
Driving further down the road, I started to look for things that she would tell me were beautiful. It was easy to pick out things that were obvious. The over-sized rocks in the middle of people’s lawns, placed in a carefully manicured subplot were beautiful. Someone had taken the time and energy and forethought to work that rock, either because it was already there or with its being placed their intentionally, to landscape their front yard. Not only was the pattern of the red and green plants surrounding it beautiful, but the person who had worked on that project was beautiful. Whether it was the homeowners themselves or a professional landscape artist who had done it, it didn’t matter. They had worked something beautiful into the world with their intention and that was beautiful.
But, I was putting off the inevitable. The inevitable was that I would have to start finding things that didn’t seem to go hand-in-hand with beauty to make my goddess happy. She didn’t just want me to think about nature as being beautiful, though I do strongly ascribe to the principle that all nature – both ugly and clean, both ordered and chaotic – is beautiful. She wanted me to think outside of that beauty box like she had with her horse riding sign.
I began really looking. I looked at the street lights coming up a they switched from red to green. I continued driving at my speed as I tried to find a reason why those lights were beautiful. In same vein to the road sign with the rider on it, they were beautiful because human beings had made them with the intent of keeping the rest of humanity safe. Along the same lines, I could assume that the cars we were all driving, with their pollution and their break downs and their flats and their loud mufflers and their talking-on-cell-phones-illegally drivers, were all beautiful, too.
“But that’s a little different,” she says. “Humans create things to make their lives easier. They made the wheel to help transport things more easily. That is beauty, too, but cars aren’t just beautiful because of the assembly line someone made in Detroit for that car. They are beautiful because they have a heart, too. Just like you and me and your son and the dog, just like the trees and the flowers and the clouds. Everything has a little bit of a heart in it but a car’s heart is part the car and part the human who loves it.”
We were discussing animism, I was pretty sure. There’s been a sudden burst in urban paganism lately, on Tumblr, so I was passingly familiar with this. It was after reading Zenith’s entry about cars that really nailed home for me the types of personalities each person can have with their electronic items. And I knew the personality of my car – Olga – even prior to reading that entry. (It was only after that entry that I began paying attention to the personalities associated with my laptop and my tablet.) And since I had no doubt about the personality of my car – old, tired, doggedly attempting to keep up her fighting weight – it stood to reason that every other car on the road would have a type of personality, too.
And those personalities could be part owner and part the car’s own.
On firmer ground, I was able to tell Hetheru about how and why Olga was beautiful. In same vein, I was able to explain why Dell, my aging laptop who has the same dogged personality as my car, is beautiful. (What? I’m not so original with naming my electronics – sorry.) I was able to explain why all the cars on the road were beautiful. I was able to point out what made them beautiful and what made them unique. I was getting into the exercise of this exploration on beauty. I was able to give her satisfactory answers and I was able to point out houses, signs, 18-wheelers, and depict why they were beautiful in the eyes of this goddess.
She smiled with each passing answer, pleased that I was finally getting the hang of what she was trying to teach me.
“You are beautiful because of your relationship with TH,” she says, out of left field.
I clam up, deep inside, not willing to discuss this. I could not bring myself to say anything on my relationship with TH at the moment. It did not seem like there was anything beautiful, right now, with my relationship with TH. “I don’t want to talk about it,” I say.
“You love him. You love him so foolishly and stupidly and that is beautiful. You would fight for anything he asked you to fight for. You would protect and cut out the eyes of anyone who would dare destroy your family, even if that person is you or TH. You are beautiful because you love, head over heels, deep emotional love, for that man even with all the problems you two have lived through.
“You are not just beautiful because you are a mom.
“You are beautiful because you love selflessly.”
I could feel myself choking up. To hear from one of my gods that I am beautiful because I love a man who drives me insane some days and who makes me happy on others was nice, if a little painful. I knew that if we continued this conversation, I may cry. The music on the radio was in line with the revelations that she was telling me. And even though, in a secret part of myself, I knew how much I loved that man and even though we continue to have the same old problems, I’m not willing to give up. I’m not willing to just walk away because nothing ever appears to change or because we end up in a new batch of shit-fry. I just keep it going and going because I love and I don’t give up.
“You are beautiful because of your relationship with the Sister, too,” she says to me. I shake my head, not willing to discuss this further. I did not want to talk about my interpersonal relationships at the moment. I wasn’t willing to go further with this conversation, but that was quite all right. To a goddess, it did not matter if the person they were speaking to was willing to continue the conversation. They would talk and that person would listen, whether they really wanted to or not.
“You know you are beautiful because of your friendship with her. You are beautiful because of all that you have done for her.”
The message was clear: it was the part of ourselves that we put into things that makes us beautiful.
So, endeth the lesson.