BY MICHAEL REISIG –
Images are powerful things, but they often denote less how we see ourselves and more how others see us. Sometimes a simple image is enough to draw powerful emotions from those around us – admiration, distain, envy, or ire. But some of us spend so much time concentrating on what others might think of us that we forget who we actually are. We end up as actors in a perpetual play, changing images as easily as a stage curtain rising and falling – Don Quixotes continually in search of our own character. The truth is, that’s acceptable up until your early twenties. Beyond that, you’re chasing windmills.
You can sculpt and mold yourself, for the sake of improvement – that’s okay. But at some point you have to say, “this is pretty much who I am. I’m okay with it. Even if you’re not.”
On the other hand, some of us simply choose to latch onto an image of what we’d like to be, because it’s less painful than accepting what we really are.
To me, the most comfortable of people are those with unfeigned images. But unfeigned images can be so deceptive and so misleading for the rest of us. How many times have you finally made the effort to speak with someone who seemed below your cast, only to discover it was you who needed to rise to meet the caliber of character and accomplishment?
The person who said image is everything, was an idiot. They had little of substance within themselves to offer anyone. The persons that believed that were bigger idiots. Image is a place to start the construction of you – to forge who you want to be. But it’s only the walls of the dwelling. Would you want to live in a building that looked like the Taj Mahal on the outside but was a recycled donut shop on the inside? Vanity is nothing more than a contagious virus. The only inoculations are common sense and independence. I’m reminded of a piece from a Calvin and Hobbs cartoon:
“Hobbes: What are you doing? Calvin: Being “cool.” Hobbes: You look more like you’re being bored. Calvin: The world bores you when you’re cool. Hobbes: Look, I brought a sombrero! Now we can both be “cool.” Calvin: A sombrero? Are you crazy? Cool people don’t wear sombreros! Hobbes: What fun is it being cool if you can’t wear a sombrero?”
Each of us is a painting in the process. The older we get, the closer it is to being finished. But here’s the catch: some of us have painted well, and their painting is admired and desired to the end. Others were just too lazy or self absorbed to get the lines and the colors right. In the end, they are a poorly done piece of work on which the colors have faded – that no one wants.
What kind of a painting are you?