I Have Been a Fool

When one hears the word “lust” it’s common to conjure up sexual meaning. Certainly sex can be lust, but lust is many more things that just sex. In the realm of desire I have known sexual lust so strong it blinded me to almost everything else. But any such yearning compulsion pales in comparison to my greatest lust: the lust for perfection.

The dictionary defines “lust” as ” an intense longing; a passionate or overmastering desire or craving; an emotion or feeling of almost overpowering desire. My chasing of always elusive perfect people, perfect things and a perfect ‘me’ certainly qualifies. It has been the lust that plagued my life most.

Friday evening after work, a relaxing evening watching a movie was my chosen way of unwinding from the work week. Out of my stash of bargain used and closeout DVD’s, “Holy Smoke” was a near completely random pick. I had not seen it and knew nothing about the movie except it starred Harvey Keitel and Kate Winslet; both long time favorites.

Admittedly I have had an innocent boyish crush on Ms. Winslet since seeing Titanic almost fifteen years ago. Having seen the re-released “Titanic” on IMAX 3-D a few weeks ago, that sense about her had been refreshed. I’ve always thought she was attractive in an unaffected way and admired that she seemed never to try to be absolutely perfect. In the famous sketch scene in Titanic where DiCaprio’s character draws “Rose” laying naked on the sofa, Ms. Winslet looked sweetly innocent and lovely. As beautiful as she looked, if you pay attention you can see stretch marks on her breast in that scene that was admirably left un-retouched.

My Friday evening movie, “Holy Smoke” with Winslet and Keitel, turned out to be a quirky, but deeply revealing movie.  It touched me enough to cause a real shift in my perspective. It’s gritty realism hit hard in few spots in a manner that helped me see past some of my previous behavior and way of seeing others.

In the past I never felt I was “perfect enough”. The exactly ‘right’ shoes, car, home, vacation, suit, furniture, accomplishment, camera and so on always alluded me. Perfect was always just out of reach, but I kept reaching any way.

The “imperfectness” I saw and felt in myself also colored EVERYTHING and EVERYONE around me. No friend was quite good enough. No associate was talented enough.  No woman was ever perfect enough and accepting each one’s imperfections eluded me. Now I realize what I was perceiving was only hatred of my own lack of perfection and was layering it onto them.

In “Holy Smoke” Harvey Keitel is 50-something cult deprogrammer hired by the family of a mid-20’s Kate Winslet who has been mesmerized by an east Indian guru. There’s a night scene where Kate’s character sets on fire her clothing from the cult, a white sari, hanging outside on a tree. The flames wake up Harvey’s character who runs outside to find a completely naked Ruth (Kate’s character). That’s when my “changing” moment happened.

I sat on the couch stunned as I pressed pause for a few seconds looking at a naked Kate Winslet on the screen. That’s when for the first time I was able to truly see the beauty that is in a woman’s physical imperfection. I saw breasts that did not match nor were perfect in shape with irregular nipples. I saw bigger thighs and legs too large for me to have previously thought of as ‘perfect’. I saw a woman who wanted to be known just as she was and accepted in spite of any imperfection. That was the point of the scene of the movie and it worked. I accepted her openly and completely, seeing only the unique beauty that is 100% Kate Winslet. I will never be the same again.

The wrong of how I judged wives and girlfriends in the past is crystal clear to me now. Beauty is in the total package; the unique female each woman is. For those women who loved me who I judged about the shape of their body or any part of it, or I wished were more here and less there…I humbly apologize and ask your forgiveness. From butt to face, breasts to weight, height to hair, posture to stomach, from scar to skin tone I judged wrongly and saw imperfection I then wished was different. Even if you never know of my feelings now, I am still very sorry for being judgmental. It was my loss I could not see the unique beauty that each woman was. When Friday’s epiphany came over me while watching “Holy Smoke” I said aloud “I have been a fool. I have been blind. Why could I not see like this before?” Tears followed as the weight of my misguided view of the past began to evaporate.

Thank you Kate Winslet for your courage to be so fully seen in an uncensored and honest way. You’re imperfectly perfect and changed my life in a single movie scene! Substantial and deep gratitude is within me for this wake up call. I have let go of a way of perceiving that no longer works for me. Short or tall, skinny or full-figured, big breasted or small, little butt or big butt… the female form in all shapes and variety has become more beautiful to me in a way I have never seen before. True beauty is in the uniqueness of every one.

Beauty is an experience, nothing else.
It is not a fixed pattern or an arrangement of features.
It is something felt, a glow or a communicated sense of fineness.
What ails us is that our sense of beauty is so bruised and blunted,
we miss all the best.
D. H. Lawrence