Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lessons in Vanity

Ever had a cold sore? Don't you just love those? They come on with lightening speed, and stay for what seems like an eternity. When they appear on your face near your lips they are pretty obvious to any one who looks at you. They can't be hidden. They hurt. They have a definite life cycle. Once one starts, there isn't a whole lot you can do but just go through the process.

Guess who's got a cold sore?

I hadn't had one for about a year and a half. I always get this one in the same spot. It's never any fun, and this time is no exception.

Each time I go through this, I am always a little disappointed in how self conscious I become. I don't like to go out as much. I don't like to get too close to people. I don't want anyone looking at my face.

Whenever I'm going through this, I suddenly am filled with admiration and respect for people who have visible problems with their bodies and yet live fully and without apology! It takes a strong sense of self to embrace and accept yourself even when something about your appearance might attract unwanted or uncomfortable attention.

To be 'affected' by something as small as a cold sore makes me stand in awe of people who have much larger challenges and who bravely and courageously embrace and live their life - no matter what.

In some ways, I'm grateful for this cold sore, because it helps me remember who and what I am... and am not. I am not my appearance. My body is one part of my expression, but it certainly isn't the entirety of me. I am still the same person - with or without the cold sore. I'm no less valuable. I'm no less me. It doesn't define me or change anything about my essential nature. If someone doesn't like me or want to be around me because of a cold sore, who has the problem?

Learning to walk confidently into the world - even with a visible 'affliction' is good practice for me. It helps me to practice detachment form my appearance as a measure of my worth. I can always use these sorts of lessons - even if I don't enjoy them.

Next time something comes into your life that you feel embarrassed to have others see, whether it's a breakup or divorce, losing a job, a financial problem, health challenge or whatever it is - use it as an opportunity to detach your identify from that part of your life expression. Who you are is much deeper and transcends all that outer 'stuff.' When something happens to our bodies or in our lives that causes us to feel 'less than' somehow, it is a perfect opportunity to practice knowing who we really are at our core. All the rest is surface stuff and doesn't mean anything about who we really are.