Just one aphorism today, because one of the ones I looked over I couldn’t really come up with a good response to. Feel free to check out yesterday’s reflections.
“Self is the Gorgon. Vanity sees it in the mirror of other men and lives. Pride studies it for itself and is turned to stone.”G.K. Chesterton, from the Viking Book of Aphorisms
I don’t think it’s really necessary to bring my own thoughts to this matter. I’ve read a couple things by Chesterton; the one that I remember best is Heresy (Amazon affiliate link; free!), which is not actually a matter of Christian theology but rather what one could call reactionary social commentary, although that makes it out to be more negative than it is.
I think there’s actually something to be drawn from the context of Chesterton’s work here: the love of the self is the root of vanity, and if you really love yourself (in an improper fashion) you can wind up forgetting your flaws.
This is why people make poor, over-reaching decisions that wind up becoming regrets for them without considering the fact that their efforts could go to ruin.
I’m sort of in a fortunate middle ground here. I at least profess some moderate view of myself, and I think that I’m fairly good at seeing myself humbly, but I have also heard others say things to me about myself that seem more positive than might be accurate.
I’ve traded my safe, reliable life for one of risk, but one which also bears more chance for self-advancement and more chances at exceptional success. I believe the current level of risk to be quite low, but it depends on me pushing myself to be something more than average–perhaps even much more than average–so I’d better whip myself into shape and keep going toward that.
I think there’s also a call for humility here. You don’t want to elevate yourself above others. There’s a grounding in humanity that you need to remember. Because I manage to make my dreams come true and someone else lacks the drive, capacity, or fortune to do the same does not make me superior, except in the sense that I may be happier than they. Likewise, I may even be less happy than someone who appears less successful than I, because the way that I measure success is deeply personal.
Keep my head out of the clouds (preferably under them, except when contemplating the divine).
Remember that even if I turn myself into someone who is uniquely exceptional, I may not be uniquely superior.
Never lose sight of my own weaknesses. Even as I strive for improvement, I am sure to always find new flaws in myself.