ON VANITY – To Be, Or Not To Be…

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I love my brother “Caleb” dearly.  He’s just about 13-1/2 months older than me, and we used to fight like cats and dogs when we were little and it was horrible.  But we’re really pretty great friends now, so when we do fight these days, that’s pretty horrible.  And that’s what happened here…

A few weeks back, I posted this on Facebook (I know…it’s like, why don’t I just get the f@#k off of FB already huh?!!), after which Caleb and I went out for dinner one night and he told me he thought doing so was slightly “vain”:

On Vanity

It really bothered me then, that he’d said this about me and actually thought this about me, and it has ever since that day as well.  And then shortly thereafter, I spoke with my mother about it, and she really quite just reiterated Caleb’s same thoughts…which really got me to thinking…

The thought’s really just seeped into me and into my veins and it’s sticky there, black, and it disgusts me but I don’t really know exactly why, I feel it has more so to do with sociological strictures than any true sense of “reality”…but it’s all just been one big mental tangle in my head, from which I’m still having trouble getting out.  So let me see if I have any luck here with you…

The post on Facebook is a link to my photographer’s blog where she created a post about my blog, which, if you’re a writer and/or blogger, etc., you’d know this is really an honor and something for which I garner great appreciation to her.  Nonetheless, here, let me try starting from here again…

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “vanity” as: (1) something that is vain, empty or valueless; (2) the quality or fact of being vain; and/or (3) inflated pride in ones’ self or ones’ appearance;

The definition of “vain” is, then:  (1) having no real value; (2) marked by futility or ineffectualness; (3) archaic – foolish, silly; and/or (4) having or showing undue or excessive pride in one’s appearance or achievements.

And then lastly, the definition of “excessive” is — exceeding what is usual, proper, necessary or normal.

So, I guess my analysis is this…

At first glance, yes, having a photographer may seem a bit “vain”.  Although, I do have a website (this blog) in addition to another website (“Jane Says”), which I’d just begun planning at the time of the photo session a few weeks back, and for which the photos shot were meant for to be taken.  I went into the photo shoot with ideas as to what I wanted to represent on this new website of mine, namely in its cover photo:

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I had wanted to capture the red rage I feel from having been discriminated against for having a mental illness, and the wild part of me (i.e. my free spirit) that will forever remain wild until it either leaves my body or is caged from me, at which point I would probably choose to leave this body myself, for what good is a body without its spirit?

And in addition, I wanted to capture the idea of darkness and light within nature, and the idea of feeling trapped in the darkness, but knowing all the while that the light is going to come and that it is still with me, even when I cannot presently see it with these two eyes of mine.  To know always that I have this light, that it is still there, despite all of the darkness…  And then I wanted the photo to be by water, and my photographer did a great job with placement because I love that I’m sitting on the roots of the tree, which jut out over the water.  It’s like I’m in peril of falling into the depths of darkness of the waters’ sticky abyss beneath, and yet I’m stable on the roots to which I am attached, and from which I have grown to-date, which are now helping to raise me up closer still into the light.

So, I don’t know, I don’t have any conclusions still.  But I know that the photo shoot was not futile — it was the opposite, it provided me with exactly what it was that I had hoped for, even more so, and exactly what it was that I’d needed.  And the fact that I went out and worked with another human being to create the image myself, out of myself, I suppose you can look at that as vain in the sense of perhaps, concluding that I think I am so beautiful that I should have my photographs taken?  I don’t know…I just don’t agree with that either…

What’s so wrong with feeling like you are beautiful, when you work for it, and struggle for it and know that every decision you make will make or break whether you are or are not it, and you work to make your decisions because what you believe in is truth and beauty and light and love and the overcoming of the human spirit despite any dismal “reality” of circumstance?  What is so wrong with being proud of that?

I mean, I work hard for that, and I earn it with every decision that I make, including the ones I f@#k up and have to go back and make my amends for.  I do so, I do that, I pay the consequences for my actions so that I can reap the benefits of learning from what I sew, despite whether it turns out for the better or for the worse.  The beauty, is in turning any result into something that is pure and good and useful, something that is not vain but the opposite, something that makes my existence here on this Earth more worthwhile than it was just this past moment before, before I created this beautiful thing within the supposed “bounds” of the “reality” within which we live.

Wikipedia says that Friedrich Nietzsche (my favorite philosopher) said, in regard to vanity, that “vanity is the fear of appearing original; it is thus a lack of pride, but not necessarily a lack of originality.”  So perhaps, then, this all is a matter of smoke and mirrors — a fine distinction between what could be considered “reality”, versus what is in actuality, actually true.

Just ’cause you can’t see something doesn’t mean that it’s not there, you know what I mean?  I suppose it’s the meaning then, that’s mucked up this whole notion of vanity within my head…

3 thoughts on “ON VANITY – To Be, Or Not To Be…

  1. I like what Nietzsche said about vanity and pride, viz. it is a lack of pride, but not necessarily a lack of originality. In fact, vanity and pride are two distinct and dissimilar entities, although regarded as synonymous in common language. One can be proud, foolishly proud, without being vain, and with total lack of vanity…..because Pride is related to our own opinions and notions about ourselves, whilst Vanity is related to what others think of us. With this Devil’s advocate approach, you may be able to see your Brother’s (and your Mother’s) opinion of you being “vain” in a new and different light. :-)

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post.


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