The damage of focusing on the external

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Yesterday I went to the DAV and found a formal dress from David’s Bridal, new with tags still attached. It was $139, but the DAV sticker said .75….and they were having a 50% off sale. I was overjoyed. Did I need the dress? No. In fact, the dress didn’t even fit anyone in my household, though I had hopes that at some time it might because….well, it’s nice to have just a random formal sitting around to be able to wear if the occasion hits. But seriously. Why did I buy it? What was it about the NWTs sticker that made it so valuable to me? I have no intention of selling it online, so it wasn’t for monetary gain. It was more about the illusion of status. As if owning an expensive dress gives me status or makes me worthy of something that I was unworthy of the moment before it fell under my ownership. 

 

This little scenario got me thinking, and as I was driving to lunch from work I noticed the same thing I notice almost every day. On a main street sat a homeless black man. He is an interesting character. Most days I see him walking in a wrap around garb, with long dreads and an intense face. He looks almost spiritual in attire and I often wonder if he has chosen this path to separate himself from the disease of consumerism that seems to have most of us wrapped around its fingers. But I don’t know, so I digress.

This man, who has seemingly nothing, is no better than I or the lawyer, judge, or postman that might walk by him on the same street -it’s downtown, so this scenario is not uncommon.  So I ask myself, why? What is it about this external focus that has most of us (seriously, like almost ALL of us) so tied up? And how does some object have the power to adjust my own thinking of myself? This is where the danger is. I know this. When we tie ourselves into things, money, status, and power over others…we fall short of what is real. We lose sight of what is actually real and important. When we have ‘things’ and we compare those ‘things’ to the things other people have, we are essentially comparing ourselves to other people. And what is funny about all this is it isn’t that we judge ourselves through our own eyes, we judge through theirs! We base our judgments of ourselves with how others see us. When we do this, we are saying their opinion matters more. And isn’t our opinion more important than any object? Isn’t the value we have in ourselves more important than that which others place on us, when essentially, they are doing the same thing. So, if I am here an I am judging myself on how another person sees me, and that other person is judging themselves on how they think I see them…isn’t it a bit ridiculous?

Long story short, I have already gone through this. For the most part, I see this thing for what it is and move past it. I try to live my life in integrity and find my own value within myself. But every once in a while, I have a little reminder….like when I go to the DAV to buy unnecessary ‘things’ for 50% off. We are all guilty. May we all work towards being better and learning to love ourselves as we are. When we do this, we will also love others for who they are, rather than who they are in reflection of ourselves.