Lessons From the Trail: Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder


My traveling buddies spent the day at the spa yesterday getting refreshed and enjoying some much needed downtime. As we were debriefing each other on our days, they told me that the lady at the spa said the trails were “much better” up here in Sapphire Valley than they were in Brevard where I’ve been hiking since Sunday.

I had a really strong emotional reaction to this statement. I told JoAnn that I didn’t agree that one area could be “better” than the other. I think they all have their own beauty. It’s like saying one baby is “better” than another. In God’s world, He created each precious piece of creation with its own beauty and specialness. I believe it’s up to us to find a way to appreciate it. One of the reasons I named my blog Midlife Moments is because I believe it’s all of the little moments in life that we remember.

Nevertheless it bothered me last night. All of a sudden I started feeling bad that I had led us astray by hiking in that area. I was mad at myself for not choosing the “best” hikes for our vacation. My vacation started to look a little dull and lackluster compared to what it could have been. I thought of my vacations in Kona and Costa Rica. I thought of my fabulous vacation in Maui and my weeklong stay on Catalina Island. Those places were phenomenal. But, when I think of them with their “in your face” natural beauty, I still don’t think they were “better” than my vacation last summer camping in North Carolina – right here in this area. That’s the reason I returned here.


When I woke up this morning, I felt a little more grounded. I prayed about it and asked for assistance in protecting my vacation experience from judgments about whether it could have been better. For so much of my life I have ruined what I have by comparing it to what I wish I had. For 54 years I hated my hair. I wanted the straight or wavy hair of my friends that would be smooth and silky. I dreamed of putting my hair up in an “updo” with gentle ringlets falling down the side of my face. I found myself being angry every time I was faced with humidity and the resulting frizzy mess I was “blessed” with. I finally cut it all off so I was less miserable. I wanted to look in the mirror and not be anguished over the fact that I didn’t have “better” hair.


When I finally took the time and effort to learn how to care for my hair and embrace it instead of trying to beat it into submission, I learned to love my hair. My hair hasn’t changed at all. It is the same hair that I’ve always hated. The eye of the beholder changed. And as I’ve given it love, it has thrived. I still have my days, but I know that its beauty is all in my perception. If I choose to accept the fact that my hair has a life of its own – a much more active and unpredictable one than other kinds of hair – then I sort of enjoy the journey.

Hawk told me to pay attention to the messages I receive on this vacation. I’m listening, my feathered messenger. My dog is down in the Brevard area. I don’t care if the trails are 100 times “better” here, or if the waterfalls are a million times bigger and more beautiful in Sapphire Valley. If I can’t bring my dog so we can enjoy these experiences in her short life, I’d rather stay at home. Today, I’m going to Asheville to one of my favorite cities and to spend time with a new friend and amazing curly hair stylist. She’s going to take care of my hair and then we are going out to dinner at one of the fabulous restaurants in Asheville.

If I were rich, I could be on the island of Hawaii. If I had a more flexible job, I could unplug and hike the Appalachian Trail. If I were skinnier, I could wear sexier clothes. If I were hiking in Sapphire Valley instead of Brevard, I could hike better trails.  Whatever …. I choose to love what I’ve chosen to do. Comparison gives me nothing but kills the joy in everything I have. Thank you, Hawk. You have challenged me to see things from a different perspective. I’m taking the birds’ eye view this morning, and I’m liking what I see.




6 Comments on “Lessons From the Trail: Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

  1. Ah yes, perspective. A saying comes to mind: I felt sorry for my self because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet. Just enjoy the hiking on your two good feet with your good hiking shoes. : )

    • That didn’t quite sound right. I liked your point and wasn’t being critical. Basically meant that we sometimes forget that we can look at things from different directions. If we look in one direction we can usually see things that are better than where we are, but if we pause and look in a different direction, it is usually not very hard to find things that can be worse. Many times we forget to look in different directions. Hope you enjoy the rest of your vacation with your friends and Ashok on whatever path you travel.

  2. Great post, Sharon. I tend to do that second-guessing, buzz-killing kind of comparing as well and think your focus on perspective is a great tool. I need to remember it the next time I convince myself that something wasn’t rewarding and perfect-for-me-in-this-moment, just because somebody else experienced it differently.

    Enjoy Asheville! My brother and his wife had property there to build their retirement home, and I was a bit disappointed when they ended up in Charleston instead. Of course, I’ve heard wonderful things about Charleston as well, and am looking forward to checking it out in December.

  3. Great post. Yes, comparison never gets us anywhere. Sounds like you’ve been to many beautiful places AND learned to find beauty where you are at.

    BTW…I have curly hair and love using coconut oil as the last thing on my hair before I start my day. I also like leaving rinse out conditioner on my hair or Aveda Be Curly curl enhancer and the Daily damage repair.

    • Thanks for the tips and thanks for reading my blog! I’ve tried coconut oil but I think I put too much on. I want to try it again. I’ve heard so many good things about it.

      Sometimes I feel like most of my life I stayed stuck because of the comparison thing. It’s one of the issues I’m really working on!

      • I have hair below my shoulders. My hair is fine and curly mostly, less in some areas. I take about a dime or nickel ‘ s worth, rub it in my hands to get it melted then start on the lower part of my hair to rub it in. I only wash my hair once a week but get it wet daily and put conditioner on it, rinse it out, then dry it with a towel and put a little conditioner on it to leave in. I air dry my hair. Good luck.

        We are taught to use comparison in our society.

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