Beauty Lesson from the Old Acacia Trees

Everytime I passed by our dormitory and of our neighborhood, I am always captivated by the towering acacia trees. There were several of them and most are very old. I don’t exactly know how old they are, but the ferns and fungi growing on their stout trunk and limbs are shouting antiquity. During the day, they are a picture of humble grandeur, as their mighty branches stir the cool breeze or their fresh green leaves provide shade to passing people. During the night, they are a picture of relaxed serenity, with their gentle hum and slow sway, and with the corn moon casting its soft glow behind them. Everytime I see them, I just could not help but look up and be mesmerized by them. They inspire me with their simple and quiet beauty. Though unnoticed and unappreciated, they continue to hold their limbs up high.

These last few days, I have read a number of articles online about beauty. Perhaps, the most remarkable for me is Lupita Nyong’s speech at the 7th Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. This breakout artist from the movie “12 Years a Slave” has been honoured by several awards, including Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars. In her speech, Lupita shared how her success in Hollywood inspired a black girl to embrace her dark beauty. Lupita has her own share of self-hating and feeling of being unbeautiful because of her skin color. But after meeting some successful black women, a realization dawned on her. She said, “beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be”. And according to her, there is “deeper business of being beautiful inside” and that “there is no shade in that beauty”.

Another related article I read is “I Wasn’t Beautiful Enough to Live in South Korea” by BuzzFeed editor Ashley Perez. It is actually a sad piece as she chronicled her experience living as an English teacher in South Korea. Despite having Korean blood, Ashley found difficulties fitting into their culture. According to her, the culture’s extreme emphasis on young women’s appearance became too much to handle for her. Fact is that one in five Korean women aging 19 to 49 has undergone plastic surgery. Fact is that while she felt smaller than the average woman in the United States, she felt like a “whale” in Korea. So when her contract ended, she just quitted and went home.

Such pieces of writing are quite depressing and heart-breaking. Yet, they hold so much truth and revelation, that people, no matter what race or culture, are struggling for beauty and appearances. Skin color, hair, body type and size, and even the clothes worn, have become gauges of beauty. Times have changed, but how beauty is defined and seen by many remains the same. It’s a sad and unbeautiful reality.

This reminds me of the old acacia trees again. Unlike the colourful and sweet-smelling flowers around them, they are simple creatures of brown barks and green leaves. Yet, they remain standing tall and strong for countless decades, providing cool breeze, shade and place of rest for many people. Through all the ages and storms and trials, they conquered and thrived. Through all such times, they exemplified true beauty, something deeper and unmoved. For there is beauty in strength…. There is beauty in reaching out…. There is beauty in fulfilling our purpose and destiny… And there is beauty in our hearts that only us can embrace, share, and multiply.

March 18, 2014
9:00 - 9:30 PM

Image courtesy of Zmotion.


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