Friday, April 10, 2009

Learing not to be someone

[photo by Gini Szabo: Grandma making a serious fashion statement]

Networking is to relationship as marketing is to art.
Dalai Grandma

Yesterday I came across an article about the importance of networking in a bad job market. They talked about people having 600 "friends" on Facebook. It made me want to abandon my Facebook, which sometimes seems like an endless cocktail party where some people are marketing themselves and what they have to sell.

Marketing yourself, being "a brand," is about putting forward a deliberately constructed self. A curious thing in the eyes of a Buddhist, because what we want to do is not be ruled by the constructed self, but to open ourselves to the true Self, be genuine. Buddhism is explicit: life is not about advancing your idea of yourself as an individual. The roots of this thinking are in the Tao, the idea that we are all one in the great flow of things.

Being authentic is curiously about having nothing to lose. I thought about this yesterday as I was getting ready to go to the health club with Tom. My leg hurt, and I just didn't feel like standing on it to put on the little bit of makeup I'm used to wearing. Eyeliner and shadow, basically. The Chanel blush I got in a cosmetic workshop when I had cancer. Oh well, I thought. Who cares? No one. I was feeling very unstylish anyway. I had just ordered on Ebay some SAS Free Time shoes in the unfortunate color, beige. SAS shoes are the only thing I can stand on my feet now, they are made to be supremely comfortable. You know what that means.

Stylishness was on my mind. I was thinking about another article in the paper about a clothing store where the salespeople are Style Analysts, and they tell people how to dress. Girlfriend, you were made to wear florals. The career consultants tell you that, too, though their idea of appropriate style is very conservative. I remember shopping for a suit back in my jobhunting days, not understanding why I was so depressed - because I am not a suit person, and I was trying to shoehorn myself into being one. Around that time I got very interested in a book called Dress to Express Yourself. The very idea was more suitable to the artistic temperament.

One of the pleasures of disability is not having to look for work, with all the temptations to self-construction that a job hunt entails. Another pleasure is maybe related, figuring out that you really don't have to try to meet other people's ideals. You can just be yourself. Moment by moment, I think is how it goes.

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