Honky-tonk beauty

Open your eyes: see things for what they really are, thereby sparing yourself the pain of false attachments and avoidable devastation.
Epictetus
55 – 135 A.D.

I’m not a big fan of country and western music, particularly the hard core country. Even though I find it painful to listen to, I do find some real lessons in some of the lyrics.

There’s one song where the story goes something like this: the wife suspects her husband isn’t totally faithful and goes into a dimly lit honky-tonk to find him sitting at the bar with a real winner. In order to show him just how lovely his honey is, she turns on all the lights, yanks the blond wig off the woman and washes the make-up off with a beer. Then she proceeds to point out how fake the woman is. Exposed to the bright lights and stripped of her make-up and wig, she was far from the beauty he’d imagined.

Once he saw the reality of the situation, the man was no longer interested in spending his time, money and energy on a fantasy. Unfortunately, the wife was not too forgiving of his mistake.

It’s okay to smile when you picture this scene. But once you’ve been amused by it, consider whether you’ve ever fooled yourself by pursuing something that glittered but wasn’t gold.

I think we all have — probably not like the honky-tonk story, but I suspect we’ve all been lured by the façade of something only to find that, on closer examination, the appeal was only skin deep.

I vividly remember my first car. It looked fine on the outside, and I bought it based on how it looked, not how it ran. Big mistake.

I’ve made similar mistakes by hiring people that looked and talked a good game, but had no substance. I’ve had friends that were smooth as silk on the outside but lacking in depth of character. I’ve invested in business ventures that seemed like a sure thing only to discover that, once the business plan was exposed to the harsh realities of the world, the glitter soon faded.

I’m pointing out these mistakes in the hopes that you’ll revisit some of your more painful experiences in life. Examine those moments when you were so eager for an outcome that you failed to properly question the premise or to look deeper than the surface appearance.

It’s very easy to get caught up in looking at the glamour and sparkle of what we hope will happen. It’s also very easy to overlook the hard facts. We often see what we want to see, not the reality. Learn to be honest with yourself. Look beyond the surface. Look for the reality of the situation.

People only see what they are prepared to see.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803 – 1852

Copyright © 2008 John Chancellor

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