I read an interesting fact recently which caused me to rethink several of my unexamined conclusions. We often hear, or know somehow, that vanity is a sin. It may be all around us like a glittering and appealing antidote to self doubt, but it is intrinsically wrong. It would not surprise me to learn that I am not the only one who has assumed that it is morally wrong to think of yourself as slightly or extremely, depending on your inclinations, superior to others because it will be insulting in some way to those who bear your comparison.
However, the original definition of the word is closer to the modern definition of futility or stupidity rather than the description of one who gazes endlessly upon ones own reflection, gleefully increasing in ones own estimated worth (arguably quite futile, but only one such example).
This etymological fact opened the door to many potential lessons within. We may be the proud owners of fabulous hair, dazzling intelligence or untold wealth but none of this is beyond decay, tragedy and total loss. Anything we are blessed with is a gift and not for ourselves, we will never be the recipients, only contributors to a shared existence. To feel smug or conceited about our strengths and attributes is to miss the point entirely.
Nietzsche said “ Whether a man hides his bad qualities and vices or confesses them openly, his vanity wants to gain an advantage by it in both cases: just note how subtly he distinguishes between those he will hide his bad qualities from and those he will face honestly and candidly”
We are only ourselves and only for a short while. Now, where did I put that lipstick?