Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Vanity Of Vanities. All Is Vanity.

I need a filler today between the post on Millie's birthday and Thursday's post on Health Care. But what to write about? Ah hah! I have it - vanity. Part of the dictionary definition is "being too proud of oneself." That has always been my definition, but apparently that may not be how others define it.

Part of the danger of living alone is the strange thoughts that arrive unbidden in my head. For some unfathomable reason I remembered an event from the past. I have a dear friend who is extremely intelligent and I admire her immensely. One time we were talking about being vain. I commented that I wasn't vain and she promptly, and most emphatically, said, "Oh I am." A very unkind thought popped into my head. I thought, "What has she got to be vain about?". She is a wonderful person but you could not say she is pretty and her comment startled me.

Later I became more charitable and it occurred to me that she meant that she took great pains to look her best. Or perhaps she is very proud of her intellect and physical beauty is not the attribute that she is vain about. Or maybe she does see herself as being pretty. We never see ourselves as others see us.

I don't think of myself as being vain. My mirror tells me I will never win any beauty contests, but I do want to look my best when someone sees me. Is that vanity?

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder perhaps a definition of a word is in the mind of the person using it. If words have consequences then we should clarify what we mean when we use the word. Following are quotations on how others use the word, vanity:

Vanity is so secure in the heart of man that everyone wants to be admired: even I who write this, and you who read this. ~Blaise Pascal

Vanity is the quicksand of reason ~George Sand

The surest cure for vanity is loneliness. ~Thomas Wolfe

Pride that dines on vanity, sups on contempt. ~Benjamin Franklin

There are no grades of vanity, there are only grades of ability in concealing it. ~Mark Twain, Notebook, 1898


I am no longer musing; I am rambling and think I will stop right here.


20th Century Woman said...

Well, you wouldn't be vain to be proud of that thoughtful post. It said something important and was exactly long enough.

I hope you are not lonely.

kenju said...

Good post! I like all the quotes.

Darlene said...

*20th Century Woman - No, I am rarely lonely. I have my frustrating computer to keep me company. ;-)

"Kenju - I like them too. Thanks, Judy.

Rain said...

Great post and interesting topic, and pleasant distraction from everything else out there. I have never understood why some see themselves as pretty who are not and others see themselves as plain who are pretty. But the lucky ones are doubtless those who see themselves as pretty and feel good about it whether they are or not. I guess excessive vanity would be bad but otherwise, I think valuing our appearance is healthy.

Darlene said...

*Rain - You made a couple of good points on the subject of vanity. I especially like your comment about valuing oneself as being healthy.