Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dangerous beauty



Stendahl syndrome, also called Florence syndrome, is a physiological response to too much beauty. Here's a link to the wiki page about it. 

Because I'm sensitive - too sensitive, some might say - beauty gets to me, every bit as much as sadness and trauma. I don't suffer from the classical symptoms of the syndrome, but I can feel overwhelmed, even exhausted, around too much beauty. Is that sad? It just is.

Once upon a time, encountering great beauty literally knocked me down. I used to fall on my knees when confronted with a perfect sunset, a beautiful painting, or while listening to a beautiful piece of music. It was hard on the knees! I was younger then, though, so I dealt with it. In fact I decided then that the reason some people bow or kneel to pray is because the beauty of the divine light knocks them down in slow motion. I've always had my theories about everything, just everything!

At some point, the Voice in the Shower suggested that I allow beauty to strengthen and enliven me instead of knock me down. What an insight! Love that Voice in the Shower. I began practicing this art with things that were pretty but not quite beautiful, letting the energy come through me, root me to the earth, then flow upwards, expanding and extending my spine and limbs. What an incredible feeling.

I've gotten much better at this technique over the years. These days I think of great beauty as part of good nutrition. I seek it out, breathe it in, and grow taller - or so it seems.

A rare sight - one of her stars reflecting direct sunlight. From the street it looks like a headlight, turned up to its brightest setting. Incredible, knee knocking beauty.


However, lately as this wave of grief for my ancestors passes through me, my heart is more open than it has been in awhile, rendering me more vulnerable to everything, including beauty.

There has been so much beauty this fall. The abundant rains of summer and a holy combination of perfect temperatures brewed up a more colorful and brilliant autumn than we've seen in years. There have been many times this season, out there taking pictures, when I actually became queasy from the overload of color and beauty.

I am NOT complaining! May the world be as beautiful as possible. The fact that I sometimes have a hard time managing beauty is a wonderful problem, isn't it? I say it is.

Shalom.


4 comments:

ellen abbott said...

well, if something has to make you sick, let it be beauty.

Reya Mellicker said...

Hell yeah.

Pam said...

Wow Reya. This is a new one for me. I understand everything you write as almost a twin experience but was behind the door when they passed this one out!
I can see its a mixed blessing - more related to those of the mystics.
What you write here is fascinating.

Steve Reed said...

What Ellen said!