It is about how small man is in his mind. How we sometimes destroy thing and people who are beautiful and innocent, merely because they are beautiful and innocent, and we can't deal with it. You need go no further than the school yard, where the prettiest girl in class is usually destroyed methodically by the other girls, and often the boys as well. She is often willfully labelled a "slut" even if is through no fault of her own that everybody desires her.
It is not limited to female beauty, either. The brilliant artist is also maltreated by people. I invite you to read the wonderful biography of Vincent van Gogh, "Lust for Life", by Richard Stone.
This is a very, very sad state of affairs, and it is one of the serious flaws in human nature, one we collectively need to face up to and repair if we want to achieve spiritual maturity as a species.
The good news is that I am positive that we can. A few hundred years ago nobody would even give thought to this, much less consider it a problem. Things are changing, fast.
Letter of the week, from Zeke:
After reading about others' experiences, I decided to tell you about my own.
After graduating from college, I had a few weeks of free time before joining the great American workforce. I decided to visit a couple of friends I hadn't seen in a while.
We had grown up together and started college together. While I blundered through higher education, they grew tired of it. One by one they dropped out and wandered the country, eventually one settled in Austin, Texas. The other moved there about a year later. Before this trip, I had never been to Austin. The state of Texas has a well deserved reputation as a desert of ignorance and intolerance. In this desert, Austin is an oasis of learning and liberalism. The reason usually given is that it is the home of the University of Texas; 50,000 college students can have an influence.
I was pleasantly surprised at what I found. Austin turned out to be a nice little city with bookstores, music stores, dozens of restaurants and a cornucopia of live music venues. Somehow during all the sightseeing, it wasn't until two days before I had to leave that I heard of Hippie Hollow.
This is a locale at nearby Lake Travis. Hippie Hollow got its name back in the 1960's when the Austin flower children made it their favorite spot for doing whatever it was that flower children liked to do. One thing they did was skinny dip. After a while nudity at this spot became tolerated if never sanctioned. So the day before I left Austin, my friends took me to Hippie Hollow. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it seemed anticlimactic. There were just ordinary people doing what people usually do at the beach, except these people wore no clothes. I was a bit apprehensive about being naked, but it passed quickly because no one paid any attention.
I swam until I got tired, which wasn't too long because I hadn't done any swimming since the previous summer. I got out of the water to take a rest, but my hosts kept swimming. I'm a pale person; I sunburn easily. So I started walking toward the shade from a small tree. One of my hosts told me not to go any further than that tree because it was near the unofficial border between the clothed and unclothed areas. I spread my towel beneath the tree in question and flopped down to rest.
It was a strange feeling. Looking down the lake shore a little distance in one direction were people in swimsuits. Looking down a little distance in the other direction were people without suits.
Then, as strange as it may seem, the suited side became more interesting. A group of teenagers was coming toward me. There were six couples. They stopped and after a brief confab, five boys headed out to a little deeper water with a ball and began playing what appeared to be some strange form of water polo. Five of the girls began the process of sunning themselves near the water's edge.
One couple kept getting closer with the boy following the girl. They stopped and had a conversation. They were just far enough away that their voices could be heard, but not understood.
After a minute the boy headed off to join his buddies in their game. The girl swam around a little. Then stood up and waded toward shore until the water was only ankle deep.
I had thought they had noticed me under my little tree, but I wasn't certain. This time there was no doubt. The girl looked right at me. I smiled and gave her a little wave, since I had no idea what else to do.
She smiled and waved back.
I estimated she was 15 or 16, maybe slightly taller than normal, maybe just the least bit thinner than average. She had brown hair and a pretty, but not exceptional face. Really, if taken separately, she had no outstanding features. She was wearing a two piece swimsuit that really could not have be called a bikini; only a tiny strip of stomach was visible between the suit's top and bottom.
She walked away and swam a few strokes. I thought I saw her looking back a me more than once. She came back to shallow water, then walked to the shore. I tried not to stare, but could not avoid it. She looked straight at me and gave me a little smile. Then she reached behind her back. When her hands reappeared, each on had an end of her now unfastened swimsuit top. Without hesitating, she casually slipped it off, still looking straight at me. She smiled, then dropped the garment on the ground and returned to the water.
I was having trouble comprehending what had just occurred. Seeing a young girl swim topless is not an everyday event. I savored the moment as I watched her. I'm not an expert on swimming, but I had to believe she had had some training because she her strokes were not only strong but had that smoothness that only repeated practice brings. She used a variety of strokes to go a considerable distance toward the middle of the lake then return.
She stopped for a moment with only her head above water. She came closer so that her breasts were above the surface. Again, she looked straight at me and smiled. She then held up an object. I knew what it was, but had difficulty grasping it.
She casually waved the bottom of her swimsuit and walked -- completely nude -- to shore.
This had to be one of those transcendental experiences I had heard about. Fully nude there was a transformation about her. As I said earlier, none of the various parts of her body could be considered unusually attractive by themselves. However, in the natural state that all changed. Everything fit together without flaw. She was perfect.
Every part of her was taut with a level of musculature that was smooth and firm without being bulky. She reminded me of a big cat with the lazy self contained self possessed ease about her. She dropped this garment as well and returned to the water. She swam for several minutes. Occasionally she would pause then dive toward the lake bed. Her back would arch gracefully. Her head and shoulders would disappear beneath the surface while her little derriere would pause just above the water for an instant, then vanish beneath the surface as her legs kicked toward the sky.
Eventually, she returned to the shore and laid down, sunning herself. One part of my brain was screaming "Talk to her, " but my mouth failed to heed it. She was just far enough away that speaking normally would not have been loud enough. I didn't want to yell. Then there was the problem of what to say. In all my experience I had no point of reference on the topic "What Do You Say to a Naked Girl." I had enough trouble speaking to fully clothed females. Then there the element that if I spoke, somehow the spell would be broken. Silence seemed to be the appropriate course of action, or inaction. I don't know how much time passed with her lying there. It could have been only minutes; it could have been hours. Time became immaterial.
All this was shattered by the arrival of my friends, about whom I had forgotten. I was seized with panic. One of them was known for opening his mouth before engaging his brain. I was sure he would spit out something both inappropriate and disgusting, so I tried to tell him to keep quiet. Too late! His eyes were fixed on the sunbathing girl and his mouth was already opening. To my unending surprise, all he said was, "She's beautiful." I had to agree with him.
My other friend, the quiet one, said, "Wow!" I had to agree with him as well.
As is always the case, reality intruded. Her friends further down the shoreline called to her. She favored us with on last smile as she slipped back into her swim suit, waved and left.
This took place more years ago than I care to recall. My friends and I are now in that place designated "middle age." We don't see each other that much, but we do speak on the phone from time to time. At some point in every one of these conversations, one of us will ask, "Do you remember that girl?" There's no need to specify which girl.
The memories of that wonderful afternoon and that fabulous girl are burned indelibly into my brain. One of the most famous lines by the poet John Keats is: A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
I never grasped that concept when it came from a literature professor. However, it has been proven repeatedly by the image of that perfect naked young girl.
Thanks, Zeke, that was really beautiful. This is just what I am talking about.