Defining Beauty

defining beauty by sandra magsamen

One early spring when I was a little girl, I looked out at a sea of beautiful yellow flowers that had sprung up practically overnight in our front yard. They blanketed the lawn, their many petals reaching towards the sky like fireworks. I called to my father and said, “Look at these pretty flowers!” He stared at the yard with surprise and said, “Oh, those aren’t flowers, Sandra. They’re dandelions. They’re weeds.” Later that day, Dad came back from the hardware store with weed rakes for my sisters and me. As he handed them to us, he explained that our job that day was to rid the yard of those “weeds.”

How Dad was unable to define those flowers as beautiful was a mystery to me at the time. But, to him, beauty was a yard of pure green grass—like the other neighbors’ yards. There was no place for weeds in his definition of beauty. It seemed like a rather narrow definition to me, and I certainly didn’t like digging up those pretty yellow flowers, either. But years later, when I had bought my own home and become the proud caretaker of a well-tended yard, I confess that, I too, adopted my father’s view of dandelions. That is, until one morning when my little daughter bounded through the kitchen door with a handful of sunny yellow dandelions and presented them to me with a big smile saying, “For you, Mommy.”

In an instant, my childhood memories came flooding back, and I decided that those little yellow flowers would forever grow in our yard. We made a family ritual of blowing the blossoms as hard as we could after they went to seed in the late summer, whispering our wishes into the wind. I have never questioned the beauty and value of dandelions again. My daughter had reacquainted me with a familiar and treasured definition of beauty, and permanently redefined the word itself for me. Ultimately, this broad view of beauty affects how I see the world.


One Response to Defining Beauty

  1. Carol Chusid September 30, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

    Dearest Sandra, I’ve been a fan of yours for many years. I adore your beautiful and meaningful thoughts and am crazy about all your art work. You express yourself in wonderful ways. I remember the Trade Shows (in the beginning of your career) when you handed out your information in hand painted bags. Believe it or not, I saved them and still have them. I’m delighted with your success and thank you for sharing your talents.