Most mornings, my early day routine includes some quiet time for meditation, prayer, and reflection. This has become an important part of my “self-care routine” and food for my spirit. In the past few weeks, the Christian devotional book I use has directed me to several readings from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. The author of this particular book uses the phrase, “All is vanity”, over and over again. The notes in my annotated Bible suggest that the Hebrew word “hebel”, which is translated into English as “vanity”, most closely relates to the words “breath” and “vapor”. So, now I read “All is vapor” or “All is breath”, which makes a lot of sense. All the things of this earth are fleeting, temporary, here one minute and gone the next. What’s most interesting to me is the fact that my own self-image is fleeting and temporary. It is, indeed, vanity.
In Getting Out of B.E.D., I wrote a chapter about my self-image or vanity…the fact that I would constantly look at my reflection, ever fearful that I would suddenly notice more “flaws”. I would have days when I would look in the mirror one minute and think, “I look good today.” Not ten minutes later, while walking past a shop window, I’d see a glimpse of my reflection and think, “Oh my gosh! I’m so ugly.” My thoughts about my physical body were so fleeting it was dizzying. So, if “all is vanity”, what is the point in spending much time thinking about whether or not I look “good” by my or someone else’s standards?
In the past few years, I’ve learned that there are several things that are less transient, more permanent, than vanity: 1) whether or not I’m living my life in a way that honors myself and others; 2) whether or not what I give and what I take are in balance; and 3) whether or not I’m feeding my mind and spirit, in addition to feeding my body. Focusing my attention on these three things instead of on my self-image has gone a long way towards keeping me out of B.E.D. Figuring out what is transient, fleeting, vapor, breath, or vanity in your life may help you on your journey, as well.
Peace, joy, and health!