Our vanity is the constant enemy of our dignity.Sophie Swetchine
The recent catastrophe in our area evoked many charitable thoughts. I spent a lot of time studying where to send money, how to support in the best way, and simply how to be a good neighbor.
In going through closets I had primary concerns for the approaching winter: shoes and coats. Even these simple items caused me to look at myself clearly. How deep was my compassion. Which was greater – my generosity or my vanity? At one point my husband looked at me and said “ I didn’t realize you were so vain.”
I realized it. And I admit, I embrace it a little. I am proud of caring how I look. I am determined to feel my best (which is to look my best) for as long as I can. It was only when I actually donated the bags and boxes of clothing that I realized the sad truth.
I’m pretty pragmatic about giving away items of clothing. For years I have little-by-little pared down my closet. I have been brutal in ridding myself of things that I no longer wear…except for shoes and jackets. But a tragedy such as ours makes one consider not just generosity but the plethora of thing that we own that are not necessary for our existence. When does holding on to comfort translate to greed? I’m pretty hard on greed (but that’s another story). This story is about my inability to see myself and my future realistically.
I have no trouble giving up lovely items that I don’t wear. So I shamefacedly gave away everything in my closet that still had the new tags, and thus, had never been worn. Mentally and emotionally (vanity) I discovered deeper issues when giving up shoes and jackets that represented my life as I want it to be. I have long ago given away my 3-inch heels, suits, and other business apparel. But I had one rack in my closet that represented the modified me and my desire to look stylish.
To test myself I put on the most practical shoes of the lot. They were patent- leather but loafers with a thick sole that represented an inch heel. But they were solid so I tried to walk across my bedroom. At the first step my affected leg rebelled. My ankle turned and I tipped precariously. If I couldn’t wear those I certainly couldn’t wear kitten heels.
The last iconic treasure of my former self was my last purchase. In 2014, (When I was old enough to know better), I bought some wonderful wedgie sandals in Italy. My daughter-in-law and I each bought a pair and thought we were so European. The style was a real stretch for her wardrobe and a last ditch grab at youth for me. I wore those shoes mostly in my own house, but they represented a ‘me’ I really loved.
News flash! You know your clothing is inappropriate for your age when you are in your seventh decade and a young Latina woman gasps with delight when she opens a box of your favorite shoes.