Crackled bark of a tree

Looks, human life & all its worth

Why is that we see appearances as “meaning” something about the value of what’s inside? As if the surface speaks the truth and we’re somehow right to judge worth on that basis; that we don’t perhaps stand to be sorely mistaken by doing so. Aren’t appearances notoriously misleading? So easy to fake, one way or another, and create impressions that, while they may serve us, aren’t necessarily meaningful in any real way.

That said, it’s perhaps only natural we judge by appearances, as how else can we? It’s so much easier to look to the surface and form opinions on those terms than to spend time patiently exploring and evaluating the interior life of any given entity. Perhaps we “need” some code for how to be and how choices will be viewed in order to live alongside one another. Maybe that’s simply a large part of all culture “is”.

We certainly seem encouraged to approach things that way, with all this focus on branding and so forth. As if this whole quite necessary process has become strangely deconstructed and knowingly played out in modern life. Often, it’s simply portrayed as “how things are”: the way the world works; the game we must play; the options we have. This vast spectrum of choices that represent who we will be.

Isn’t it likely to leave most people feeling bad about themselves, though? Especially given how the attributes of youth seem those most often held up as the standards for admiration. Leaving almost everyone to chase the impossible dream of never getting older – cursing the passing time for diminishing our worth in the eyes of the world.

Even before the notion of age comes into the picture, though, it seems few will ever naturally meet the strange and ever-changing standards we’re set. As if we’re all destined to never quite measure up – and, if we do, that it’ll only be a matter of time before that thing becomes dated. This sense in which we’re all perhaps chasing our tails trying to gain the ongoing approval of this type of society.

The idea that almost everyone might be living their lives feeling undervalued or misjudged by their community seems strange. All fretting over the exterior and worrying about how others see us. “Our worth” being this shaky asset as we pedal after unattainable targets in a bid to keep our heads above water.

How often does how we feel on the inside truly match how others are seeing us? Our appearance being a genuine reflection of our interior life in all its complexity, richness and worth. This state of complete comfort as we feel the judgements of others correspond perfectly with who we’re trying to be, all that matters to us and how we wish to be understood. Maybe it’s an impossible task? For our image to match our selves.

Why then do we judge, casting everyone in the light of simplified assumptions? What are we really saying by living our lives that way?

Notes and References:

Seeing what things mean
Can each be true to themselves?
Rich complexity of human being
Valuing people more
Treading carefully in the lives of others
Beauty is truth, truth beauty
These ideas we have of one another
Who gets to define us
Thought, knowledge & coherent vision

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