When’s the Last Time You Looked in the Mirror?

H with pussywillowHuh?  What’cha smokin’ up there, Henry?  I look in the mirror five times a day, brushing my teeth, combing my hair, etc. etc. etc.  What’s your point?

The point is:  That’s not the kind of looking that I’m talking about, and if you’re skeptical, go find a mirror…right now, and try to peer into it.  Look deeply at yourself, and I don’t mean looking to see if your eyelids are saggy, or you need to get some more sun.  Look at your eyes, if you can.  Chances are, you’ll find a very good excuse to conclude that this exercise is silly or absurd.  Maybe it is…and maybe it isn’t.

The next step to this silly test is to close your eyes and look into a different kind of mirror.  This mirror is the one inside your mind.  It’s the one that has an inkling about WHO you are, not just what you look like.  We humans, clever creatures that we are, are capable of coming up with instantaneous rationalizations for pretty much every thing we’ve ever done, or failed to do.   Let’s call it the, Yeah…But Rationalization“.

We all do it at some level.  When we’re little kids, we’re going to be rich and famous, or…just rich, or we’re going to discover a cure for cancer, or write a best-selling novel, patent some invention that solves world hunger…that sort of thing.  And for 99.999999% of us, that just never happens.  “Yeah, I coulda been a contender, a doctor, a novelist, BUT…  life threw me a curved ball” and there are a billion curved balls being thrown at us.

Good News/ Bad News:  If you’ve been reading any of these blogs, you know that I don’t really suffer bullshit for very long, my own included.  If you can’t write the truth, there really isn’t much point to the whole process.  So…here goes:  Like a lot of folks, I was raised with rather lofty ambitions.  I was going to be a doctor, for no other reason than many of my relatives were either doctors or famous in some way.  I won’t inundate you with specifics, I’ve hit those points in other articles.  Suffice it to say, my folks were pretty well known and that’s what I wanted for myself…big house, money, impressive car, and some great accomplishment that would impress the hell out of the world  The good news/bad news that I slowly began to discover is that it’s a trick.  It’s a trap.  It’s a sucker’s bet, like playing that game of finding the marble hiding under one of the plastic cups.  When you pick your cup…the marble ain’t there.

I can say, with some small degree of authority, that having a fancy car has never, ever, ever impressed anyone on the planet, though it’s annoyed more than a few.  Same with Pam’s and my house, which looks pretty impressive…yet does not impress, because that’s not how the game works.

Most people who’ve been on the planet get this to some degree, but the game plays out even more surprisingly than you’d think.  I remember vividly saying this exact sentence to Pamela about 45 years ago: We were pulled over at the side of a beautiful road in Arizona.  The sun was just setting, and I was just beginning to “make it” with the sculpting.  I said, “If I could just do one thing: create sculptures for the rest of my life, I’ll be happy.”  I believed it, too.  Down deep, I believed it.  But human nature being what it is, I soon found that I wanted more, I wanted to be in this gallery, then that gallery.  I wanted to be well-known, have books written about me.  I got my wish, and you know what?  It didn’t change a thing.  Nothing.  Later, as my writing began taking off, I said to Pamela,  “If I could just be a successful writer…THAT will, do it for me.”  I was fairly certain that I’d be the darling at cocktail parties.  People would flock and ask questions, and I would be down-deep happy.  Well, that didn’t happen either.  It doesn’t happen…never will.  That’s not how the human race is set up.

For what it’s worth, and if it makes anyone feel any better, I can pretty much guarantee you that the 200 ft yacht you see anchored down in Palm Beach Island, is owned by someone who spends most of his time on a phone working deals, because…there’s another yacht that just showed up and it’s 250 feet long.  Misery.

Money doesn’t do it, though you see people, otherwise intelligent people trying to buy happiness with it.  Didya see Kanye West bought just bought his infant child a $200,000 ring to wear while she’s teething?  I’m pretty sure that North West (her name) is going to have some issues to handle when she’s a trifle older.

So if money doesn’t do it, and fame doesn’t make you happy, and stuff…God, I’m beginning to hate that word, doesn’t do it either, is there any answer at all?

Here’s the good news…finally.  Being happy doesn’t have to cost you a cent.  Happiness is not a yacht, a three million dollar home, or a one million dollar Bugatti Veyron.  It’s pretty much the opposite.

It’s all in the intangible stuff: having a loving mate to  communicate with, a son who still calls you up once in a while because he still values and trusts your opinion.  And, in our case, three Boston terriers, who want to be with you every waking moment so they can make you laugh and you can scratch their backs…or perhaps leaving a big tip for your breakfast waitress, because her air conditioner just blew out…or helping your neighbor out in a jam…even if he isn’t your favorite human being on the planet, being a friend, telling the truth, even when it hurts.  Seeing those people around you as people, with their own problems, dreams, and desires.  Add up the total cost of the items in this last paragraph and it comes to………….ZERO.  And it makes you happier, and a little better person to boot.

 You should be able to look in the mirror and say, “Well…  maybe I don’t look so hot anymore…but my wife thinks I’m okay, pups do, too, and most my friends.”

By the way:   Does anybody know how much money or what kind of car, Mahatma Gandhi had, or Mother Theresa? Martin Luther King, our new pope? Albert Schweitzer?  Jonas Salk? Steinbeck?  Hemingway? Jesus Christ?   Could any of these people have cared any less about stuff, golden idols, fancy adornments, money???  I don’t think that’s what any of them were about.

Moose and Scooter just wandered into the den.  Scooter wants to be tickled and Moose wants some of our homemade dog biscuits.  And Gigi’s indicating that she’s chilly and needs a sweater.  It’s time to go.   Thanks for reading.


1 Response to "When’s the Last Time You Looked in the Mirror?"

  1. Elizabeth Hardy says:

    Right on! I have felt the same way more and more lately. I’m at the stage in my life where I know who I am, and I am not defined by “things” anymore. Life is short and I plan to re-explore my inner hippie. If I could ditch half of my “stuff” and be twice as happy I would do it in a heart beat.

    Liz H.

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