The above the title of a great Thelonious Monk ballad. In his deep way, and in his unorthodox chord voicings, he showed that there is some “ugliness” in beauty and some beauty in “ugliness.” And that pretty much captures my state of mind after seeing some recent photos of me. In some, I recognize the familiar decent-enough face that has been with me most of my life. Not stunningly handsome, but reasonably attractive.
But in others… Ay! It’s shocking how hideous I can look, sagging neck flesh, weird expressions, bad posture, bulging belly. Damn! You would think in my mid-sixties, vanity would fade out, any concern about looking attractive would have outlived its usefulness and I could re-focus on the more important and lasting inner beauty. You would think it, but apparently it’s not quite true. It’s hard to adapt to feeling occasionally hideous. Not that I see it in disgusted looks of people who I teach or pass, but dang, those photos!!! (I WILL NOT post them here.)
I suppose it’s a lesson in non-attachment to temporal forms. I remember a quote from my mystical younger days: “That which is introduced into the domain of Time is subject to the ravages of Time.” Ain’t that the truth! But the reminder is to focus more on that untouched by gravity and the lion paw of time raking across the face—that feeling of inner beauty that the absence of mirrors and cameras allows to flower.
And that beauty finds expression not in the face, but the words fathered forth by the heart’s imagination and the tones coaxed from pianos with fingers, the intuitive mind and feeling heart. So I struggle to redeem this whiny post with a vow to work harder on Monk’s tune and remind people to listen, not look.
Still though, if you have or have seen any of those photos referred to here, please delete them immediately!