“I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.”
Ecclesiastes 1:14, NRSV
You know these words are true, but you pretend otherwise. Why do you believe the lie which you know is a lie?
You are not your body; your physical form will one day die. If you are over 18 your body has already begun to wither, and yet you toil and slave to maintain it. You say you do it to be healthy; you feign joy in the process, but you know that’s not true. It’s all about your ego and your belief that you are your body.
You are not your psycho-social roles. Your being cannot be summed up in words like Mother, Brother, Employee, Christian, or Friend. These are only small parts of who you are, barely real, constantly changing. Within a generation or two, no one will remember you or your accomplishments. What is remembered, if anything, will be more legend than fact. Yet you live as if these roles and deeds were real, were really you, and you invest tremendous time, energy, and resources to maintain that which you know is false.
If you can, turn off your radio, television, laptop, tablet and phone long enough to think about what I’m saying. Go sit in a public place and watch people. Not for entertainment, but to be present and witness their hurrying, scurrying lives. You’ll see your own pointless, frenetic activity reflected in them. This time of year is perfect for this sort of thing: Go to a mall and watch people trying to make themselves happy through forced consumerism.
Am I saying that you shouldn’t work, or raise a family? Am I saying ‘do nothing’? No.
I’m saying you need to constantly remind yourself of the vanity of your life; continually acknowledge the fact that your life and your deeds will one day vanish like the fog in a breeze. See this fact, sit with it, and let go of your psychological hold on those things which are not real. Stop identifying with form. Stop pretending to be the role you are playing. Play the role, but know that you are playing a role.
“Everything that confronts (you) is vanity, since the same fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to those who sacrifice and those who do not sacrifice.”
Ecclesiastes 9:1-2, NRSV