Meeting Lydia

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I feel like I'm just taking in a lot. I have two questions left. And also Lydia, I'm 35 and you said you're You have such a wealth of wisdom around this. And I think having been in the New York fashion industry, I can only imagine it could be really unhelpful or it would cause you to really develop your ideas around true beauty.

And it sounds like you have done the latter, which speaks to I think your strength and your wisdom even though I don't know you very well, so I think that that's really cool too to hear about your experience. As I wrote the book Silence and Beauty , I'm obviously talking about beauty and it was a very hard experience writing it, because you have to revisit your trauma and you're going through trauma at the same time. And so I didn't want to write it. And what that did was this discrepancy between what I had said, even at that point when I realized what was my conclusion on this topic, right?

And I really had to re-examine what I said as a consequence, which was really helpful.

And what was interesting about the book was that I had the English version that came out in and then I then worked on a Japanese version And during that process I had to re-calibrate not the definition of beauty or anything that I said, but I was adding my own inflections on to certain realities that I was experiencing. And then later on, as I began to showcase some of the art that I did during that time, it was just called Science and Beauty , that kind of evolved out of that time. So, it's really something that is ongoing.

And I find myself constantly thinking, first of all how deep this conversation is, and how grateful I am to have it. Because it is ultimately a generative conversation. One thing that Lydia said, which is so true is that when you are in a limited resource environment, you cannot, you're not suppose to think about beauty, because beauty is extravagant and gratuitous. In a limited resource environment, that Lydia has visited where I have been to as well in the world, there's often beauty, much more than in the high fashion industry or the fancy New York art scene.

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These people who are considered poor and outcast marginalized people, seem to be able to exhibit and talk about beauty much more than we can. And so there's a lot to be learned from them. And I have been really [in] listening mode because I realized after writing this book on Silence and Beauty , there's still a huge gap between what I say and what I write about and what I paint about and my own heart, which is a process that I continue to go through. So then for you, Lydia, did anything come to mind about any experiences that have transformed your ideas around beauty?

Did anything come to mind? So many.

There's a lot that comes to mind, on different levels. So there's the every day moments where the simple moments in life, like where you can, this is so cheesy, but where you can watch the sunrise and see There's an element to that that is so simple and fundamental and easy. You can't capture that in any type of product or marketing. And it's something that translates across every language, culture, no matter where you are in life as a child or elderly person, like every single person would think a sunset or sunrise is beautiful.

And to me that's just the basic nature of what beauty is and how I try to see beauty in my day-to-day life. But then of course there's those big mountain top experiences that I've had with parents. And so there'll be a Palestinian parent that their child was killed by an Israeli soldier, whereas there's an Israeli parent where their child was killed by a Palestinian. And they come together and they form this bond and friendship together that is an illustration and example of forgiveness and reconciliation like I've never seen before.

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And so there are those experiences, just learning from other people amidst their own brokenness. And finding humility in learning that we have to choose to release some things in life in order to get to hope and in order to get to beauty. There [are] other areas that are less tangible than maybe hearing someone's story or seeing something beautiful happen in the world. And it's more so just like this constant journey of understanding what God's purpose is for us, and what it truly means to be like Jesus.

And I think we fail at that all the time, but I think the element of failing and realizing that, and moving forward is beautiful. And for me, that's what beauty is on a daily basis. And I try to take those big experiences that I have had in my life and use that energy to propel me in moments of the mundane because we all have Mondays where we just want to sleep all day. And that can be beautiful too in its own way. So I think that's just again my own, like trying to use that muscle of not confining beauty to one certain set of situations or time frame.

It's more so learning about it in all of the unconditional elements of life. And I realized that so much of what we intuit, and what we experience through beauty actually transcends grief and ourselves, so I felt like I was transported into this glance of new creation, where there was so much more that God has prepared for us. But because we're so caught up in trying to wear our masks and living each day in our stoic way to just survive, right? That we assume that resources are limited, that beauty is gratuitous, it's a waste of time for anybody to stop and enjoy a sunset.

I think it's precisely the opposite. I think when we allow ourselves to be open to beauty, we experience something that we never thought was possible before. And, consequently, we are able to experience people, relationships like these parents who had to endure this something that they will never get over, but, still, in their relationship is something that they can create out of. And, so it's a sea beyond journey for them as well. And, I think that's for me I always tell people that I mentor, "hey, do watch a sunset," and I had a Princeton student who decided that every day that she would commit to watching a sunset.

And [this] Princeton student, being very busy, that was hard to do. And there were days that she couldn't do it, but she kept that up for four years and had friends join her. And I think that probably can do more for her in her life than perhaps…well a Princeton degree is a big deal, but anything she learned in the classroom, because that generates so much about her and that will help her to grow in the future.

The last question that I have, I feel like anything that both of you have said could be the answer to this question, but maybe something in particular comes to mind.

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The last question I have is, if there's one thing that you wish people knew about beauty, what would it be? I know it's probably a tough one.

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I think you have a good answer for this one. I think if there's one thing, I would say that, yeah, it's exactly that…I think everyone has a unique concept of beauty in them and I would encourage them to know, to eliminate the misconception that they don't know anything about beauty, eliminate the idea that they are not beautiful, eliminate the idea that And I would just want to learn about what each person's unique capability within beauty is.

I think every single human has a unique perspective to share on the concept.

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And I am continuously learning about what that is when I meet new people. And yeah, I think that just makes it kind of exciting because the more we learn about people, the more we can learn about beauty. I think, oftentimes we define beauty as this materiality of anything, object or even a person, right? A person is beautiful because has features or, and we've missed the whole thing when we say that.

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And there's such an incredible beauty in a conversation that focuses on the internal reality, that seeing the world through the inner eye, whether it be people or landscape or sunset or any situation. And that's what I'm actually trying to do as an artist, even though my job is to observe and see. But really I want that to filter down to the internalized reality. And if I could tell myself when I was 18 and maybe [a] college freshmen, trying to figure out the world, is exactly what Lydia just said is that, you may not think you're beautiful but you are, and spend the next four years discovering that, because it's true.

And you can endeavor to do that or cover yourself up.

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You can spend the next four years running away from what you think is ugly, or something that is not worthy, or something that you are struggling with internally. But the more you do that, the more you lose yourself and the more you can really just be open and vulnerable and find friends And then for me, the gift of art has become a way to really delve deeply into that self, that part of me that perhaps at the time I was struggling with.

So that that has become my life, really. And I've learned to appreciate the things that I want to hide or what I'm not proud of, but those things are entry points, or have least become a way for me to get beauty and speak about beauty in brokenness to other people. You both have added so much to this conversation I'm trying to have our own beauty. I really am so grateful. The Daksha Chudgar Lydia House's lodging services is saving lives. When the CSRA is the best hope for a cure.

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Yes, most of the people from that period.