All is vanity when you buy things you don't need, with money you don't have, to impress people you don't like.
In today's society, it seems like we need more and more toys, bigger homes, more things to fill said homes, bigger vacations, and the list goes on. Most of us, even if we try to be, are not exempt from this thinking. It is a hard thing not to be. And if we don't have these things, we feel ashamed, which changes how we live our life. We work longer hours, get two jobs and even send both spouses to work (kids, fend for yourselves for a bit), go into debt, and become slaves to this debt for the rest (or much) of our lives - and though I am not suggesting that these things are wrong, I think if we all take a look closer to ourselves, we do those things more to keep up with the society than we do to build relationships (see previous post).
Case in point. Tiffany and I went to a wedding at the Tuscany down in the Salt Lake City area last weekend. We didn't have our kids with us, and due to logistics, we left the van where they were and we took my little civic - a 97 Honda that gets me to work and back and usually used for little else. It is getting old, has a few minor body issues here or there. The passenger side mirror is stuck on with duck tape (actually, gorilla tape - it holds better and it matches the color of the mirror casing) that has held since I put it on a few years ago and I don't see the reason on paying $150 to fix it since it works and nobody can tell the tape is holding it on. The engine fans and belts scream, making it impossible to be unnoticed, while the glove compartment broke when I was fixing the heater fan a few years ago - it now just hangs open (though I have tried to fix it a couple of times. It is just plain broke).
Nobody, at least almost nobody, gets in the car with me. It is simply used to commute 50 miles to work and 50 miles home. Sometimes I will take it other places when the van is being used, but it generally sits idle otherwise. It is paid off, gets 35 mpg, and just continues to run, no matter what I do to the thing. Can there be anything wrong with this? One day I dream of a truck, but that won't happen until this thing dies.
So there we were, arriving at the Tuscany, and both Tiffany and I were shuttering at the thought of valet parking. Not only did some kid have to get in and drive it, but there would be many others who would see us get in and out of it. The insanity! We laughed at the thought that we would rather be driving the van. (Now there is a cool thought. The fact that I would rather be seen in a van than my little red coupe, tells you a lot about what we think of that car.)
You see, we are not exempt. We started to, in essence, covet what we did not have. The nice thing is, I know that I am not alone. And that can sound kind of cheeky, but, c'mon, how often do you find yourself thinking or feeling the same way? No seriously, 9 out of 10 of you probably do.
I don't know what this means as a society. Financially speaking, it has been what has propped up the economy for so long. But what if I was so embarrassed out of pride, that I decided not to attend the wedding? The sad thing I find is that when we don't build relationships because we are so focused on attaining the next great thing, when we get that new toy, we won't have anybody to share it with. Or at least anybody who cares about us. They might like the toy, however.
From time to time, I get my camera out and take family photos, and when occasion permits photos for other family members or friends. I do a nice enough job - I did pics for a happy couple the other day. I took some pictures of them in the morning, came home and rushingly loaded them up to Walmart to develop some before I went back to the actual wedding.
When you think nice pictures, you don't think Walmart. Of course not. Walmart is just cheap. But I have found that once a picture is in a frame, unless there is something unusual about the photo paper, nobody can tell if it came from Walmart or from somewhere else. I find if you take good pictures, the Fuji printer at Walmart does just as nice a job as the Fuji printer at, say, Mpixpro, or Snapfish, or whatever. (There are a few options out there aside from a these photo options, but going into them would mean to digress into unnecesary topics. We are just talking about general photo prints.)
Tiffany, being the respectable gal that she is, told me to not give the pictures in the Walmart envelope. 'Who wants to look at pics from a Walmart envelope?', she told me. 'At least don't advertise where you print your 'professional' photos.'
I said, 'Nah! They will love the pics no matter how I give it to them.'
They loved the pics, of course. But I was surprised later when somebody made mention about the uncool nature of carrying around a Walmart envelope.
Tiffany is always right. Why don't I listen to her more often?
Oh, yeah, my pride. To which I remember someone saying,
"I don't recall hearing of anybody choking to death while swallowing their pride."
Cheers, and happy swallowing. Doing so, I think, gives us character.