Monday, July 29, 2013

Image Management

As an agnostic, I can't subscribe to the belief that "God made us in his image".

Advertising, unlike God, is an obvious reality, and one of its more frequently deployed tools is to purvey images of people and life-styles that are currently in vogue, into which the product in question neatly fits. These days, for example, luxury housing goes with golf courses; Swiss watches go with German cars, and Italian dinners must be prefaced by Scottish single malts. If any of them is missing, you are a loser, and need to crank up the power on the treadmill of your life.

Freedom comes from rejecting all of the cookie-cutter moulds that the world asks us to pour ourselves into. Joy comes from finding what we truly relish, and rejecting all the second-hand prescriptions to make us feel good about ourselves.

It takes a fair amount of courage and self esteem to break away from the pack, and create a life that is genuine, meaning one that is a response to one's search within oneself for what brings meaning - in work, play, friends, and consumption habits.

Remember, though, that this is - or needs to be - a dynamic process. Too often, we create an image of ourselves, adjust ourselves to it, and it to our being, and settle into it. This, too, is a trap.

Our souls evolve, the world changes, the stimuli thrown at us are ever new. Often, we don't see them as being new, so we respond in familiar, comforting patterns. This is a shame - I believe we have the ability to constantly change, and there is great joy and liberation to be found in this continuous growth.

To find this growth, we must reject all images of ourselves - those purveyed to us, those our families seek to burden us with, and most of all, those we cast for ourselves.


  1. Rejecting images of ourselves purveyed to us by others is the mark of any first-hander. This I had internalized long ago. But, for me, the profound bit is to realize that we can also trap ourselves with a non-dynamic self-image.