Our Lost Ability To Blush

We can spend hours crafting an epistle, weeks planning a proposal, months refining a poem, or years writing a novel. The desire: to contribute something profound to the universe. To challenge a mind. To win a heart. Yet the most profound thing that I have read in ages has been a tweet. A 140 character thought. In this instance, a thought belonging to Rick Warren. Whilst perusing my Twitter feed as one might a morning newspaper, I spotted this:

It was not so much the debate on scandal, morality, etc., that tickled my fancy, rather the notion of having an ability to blush.

That blushing is a visual manifestation of emotion fascinates me. A purchasable product to achieve such an effect, aptly named ‘blusher’, has an air of irony about it – particularly, I think, when worn to attract. Those of us who blush know that it is not something that we can control, and I think that is its beauty. Embarrassment is such a transparent, honest emotion, whether it manifests as the spread of crimson across a cheek or as an explosion of anger in an attempt to divert attention. To develop an inability to blush takes practice. To build a threshold requires the demolition of walls of inhibition.

The workplace can be an arena for scandalous, disgraceful, and apparently shameless conversation. I once worked with the most outrageous colleague. She was brash, crude, rude, and a notorious gossip. Every other word was foul. She could make men who had been in the armed forces for years turn in to thirteen year old boys with her sexual explicitness. She was openly and proudly gay. One day, a fellow colleague teased her about a past sexual relationship that she may or may not have had. Imagine my surprise when I saw that she was blushing! It struck me that she was able to joke about sex with the entire office so openly and without shame, yet her threshold for embarrassment was an intimacy from her past.

And d’you know what?

In that moment she was quite attractive. She seemed more approachable, more vulnerable, more innocent and, well, more human.

I went on a date with a bit of a lad once. He was known for being, for want of a better word, cocky. Now, in all honesty I do fancy a bit of arrogance in my men as I see it as a challenge. However, this chap pushed my limit. The date was going a bit too well – to the point where I wondered if it had been scripted. He was a little bit too smooth and I had suspicions that the lines and the moves he were attempting may well have been recycled. However, mid conversation and without warning, he said something awkward. He knew it. I knew it. He knew that I knew it. He blushed.

And d’you know what?

My heart melted a bit.

Why?

Because it was real.

‘Embarrassment’, ‘shame’, ‘vulnerability’, and ‘innocence’ are not ‘comfortable’ words or emotions. They are a little bit dirty in some situations and they are often abused. I know that I have gone to great lengths to avoid them. But sometimes, just sometimes, can they not be beautiful? As beautiful as the shade that we turn when we feel them?