Can’t remember who said it, but the other day I happened to hear something to the effect of,
Every Day Above Ground Is A Great Day!
Perhaps I was just in a reflective mood, or something. But, the phrase stopped me cold when I thought of its possible significance.
And, upon further consideration of its elegance and simplicity, I gave my attitude about life, a serious, top to bottom, check over…
During the course of which I came to the painful conclusion that:
Despite ‘thinking’ otherwise, I’m a vain man.
Pity the vain man!
Yes, pity him, because:
- A vain man could spend a lifetime searching for, and scheming for, ways to cause outside conditions suit his false self image. e.g. he’s selfish and greedy.
- A vain man will continuously judge other people by how they respond to his image of himself. e.g. he’s insensitive and needy.
- Worse still, being vain, guarantees he won’t have a clue he’s doing either of those two things.
In my experience, the ‘Universe’ isn’t swayed with any man’s existence. And, most men are driven to act in their own best interests.
This bit of reasoning makes me think of an illuminating poem written by Stephen Crane, A Man Said to the Universe:
A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”
Crane’s poem, which I first read as a young teenager, was both terrifying and freeing. Either way, it helped me gain a sense of independence.
Anyway, if a vain man tries to manipulate outside conditions to fit his druthers, he’s destined to a life of constant frustration and daily disappointments.
Even I can see that’s a cruel form of self-imprisonment.
Yet, despite this understanding, I remain a vain man…
Otherwise, why am I not sometimes content, delighted even, for another day above the ground?
I figure, at least in part, it’s because of my selfish desires for controlling my relations with the events occurring within my life.
Only a vain man would attempt such folly!
Uh, I rest my case, I truly am a vain man…
I doubt if my smart and perceptive wife would agree with my self assessment.
And, I don’t think my family, or other people I associate with, would say that I’m vain. (Yeah, I’ve outlived all of my few friends.)
None of which changes the reality that…
I’m a vain man, something that I honestly thought I was kinda the opposite of.
And, because of a human behavioral tendency that I noticed years ago, I should’ve suspected my own vainness.
(Looking back, I think the discovery of this common trait, and it’s implications, was probably my 1st ‘life hack’.)
When I was still new to the big wide world of dealing with people other than my family, neighbors and childhood friends, I started noticing how the actions of many people proved they were pretty much the opposite of what they said they were.
Being an idealistic youngster, I didn’t wanna believe the evidence.
After getting burned on some deals with people who ended up doing a 180 from what they’d promised, I managed to wake up and smell the coffee.
So to speak…
Here’s how this would work out, if someone makes it a point to bring up their integrity, I immediately lock down my money around them.
Like most life hacks, this one isn’t foolproof.
Take me, for example…
As a newly admitted vain man, I own up to being a selfish, greedy, insensitive and needy being.
Yet, how have I managed to love, and cherish, the same woman for over 42 years?
What about the constant pain in my heart from losing our youngest son, when he was only 23?
Why am I often emotionally immobilized with longing and remorse, when I allow myself to think of the black hole separating myself and our oldest son?
And, why is it so painful to visit my once beautiful, vivacious, athletic, sassy and super funny, 92 year-old Mother, who’s so doped on prescription drugs, that sometimes she can hardly talk?
Is this irony? Or, is life just a paradox?
Don’t ask me. I’m a vain man, and I’d probably just tell you whatever I think you wanna hear.
I’ll leave you with a song that always makes me think of the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen, my wife…
That’s it for me. Talk to you next time…
On the meantime, give a little thought about how simple life could be if we kept in mind that:
Every Day Above Ground Is A Great Day!
Ideas for me, your aging related story, or comments are always welcome!