Warning: I might be all over the map today, but stick with me and I may have a point before this is over.
There's an interesting conversation going on over at quoteflections (you can check it out on my blogroll), about vanity and its place in our lives. It is my opinion, and my opinion only, that it's essential that we love ourselves, a love that comes from respecting ourselves, showing compassion for and not judging ourselves, seeing ourselves in a wholly loving light. In order to truly love others, we have to love ourselves first. Trying to do so any other way is starting backwards and I don't think that works very well, if at all. However, loving ourselves is not vanity. Vanity is Narcissus looking at his own reflection in the pool (we'll take another look at him later). Loving ourselves is seeing another, and in doing so seeing ourselves, and still loving what we see. Still with me?
Vanity comes from the ego, and I'm still working this one out, as you might suspect. Separating the good from the bad in ego is pretty tricky. I think it may well be impossible. The ego will always be whispering in our ear, having us believe in separation, that we are not That person, the one who is unloving, the one who is judgmental, the one who is spewing venomous words of hate and fear. The tricky part is, while I'm looking at another in this light, I am responding from the same set of feelings that I am so derisive of. As I said, I'm still working on this one. The world seems to provide so many opportunities for practice.
It seems we could all benefit from a big dose of joy. I recently saw an image of children in Portugal. It was a photograph in the September issue of National Geographic, taken by freelance photographer, Miguel Costa. Six boys, sons of fishermen, were sitting atop a heap of sand at a remote beach. All six of them were grinning and laughing and expressing unmitigated joy. No ego there.
Mark Twain once said, "Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand." Laughter is wonderful. Surely we have all known the joy that comes from unrestrained laughter with a friend, completely unhampered by judgment, of any kind. The ego is dropped, joy steps in. This doesn't mean we live in a constant state of yukking it up. It can also be a quiet, tranquil joy, the joy that comes from staying in the moment and finding peace there.
Back to our boy, Narcissus. While staring at his own reflection in the lake, he falls into the water and is transformed into a beautiful flower! The goddess of the forest notices that the lake is no longer fresh water, but salty. She visits with the lake and the lake admits to weeping for Narcissus. The goddess inquires as to why. Was it because of his beauty? The lake responds, "I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depth of his eyes, my own beauty reflected."
I'm not sure these two, joy and ego, relate to anyone else as much as they do to me, but the joy of blogging is that I can use my page to express my feelings, and these feelings are just my opinions. No answers, just opinions. My opinion is: Joy is the answer. That and love. But, "That's just my opinion, I could be wrong," as Dennis Miller used to say on his show, that used to be on, that I used to watch, before his ego started annoying me so much. See? I need a lot more practice.
I started looking at images of paintings by Winslow Homer and couldn't stop. So, it's Winslow Homer Day on my blog.