THERE ONCE lived a girl called Vanity. It was in that strange country where newborn babies are left unnamed – simply being referred to as so and so’s first son, so and so’s third daughter, etc – until they have grown into childhood. Only then would their parents and relatives, having up to this time carefully studied the character (for early dawns day) of the one to be named – finally confer upon the child that name which they believed best captured the essence of its core personality.
And so did this girl, from an early age, come to be called Vanity, for she was as proud and vainglorious as a peacock. Vanity believed that the whole world was there just to serve and admire her. She did not care much for others, nor could she tolerate, in her vicinity, another receiving more attention, admiration and adoration than herself. This she simply could not bear. She thus constantly went to all and any lengths to make sure that the attention of everybody would always and only be riveted upon only her. Vanity dressed in the most beautiful of clothes, wore the most attractive ornaments, learned the most alluring manners of self-expression, perfected the most sensational methods of walking and swinging, and – being the scion of wealthy royalty – made it very obvious to the gentry that she had a lot of wealth to spread around. The inevitable consequence of this was that the world divided itself into two groups before her – those who crowded themselves around her and those who avoided her. Great was her pleasure, for ‘her side’ verily outnumbered the other side.
As she grew into a teenage adolescent, a spectacular beauty happened to grow out upon Vanity’s features and fitted itself around her form. Naturally this pleased Vanity extremely and only served to confirm for her and her court her egotistical claim to prenatal supremacy. And at this point her name changed spontaneously from Vanity to Beauty. Beauty became the rave of her time, the talk of town, the object of the envy and idolisation of the women, the desire of the men – exactly what she wanted. Beauty wore her outward beauty like a trophy and used it ruthlessly to acquire everything she wanted, most of which she indeed also got. For people practically worshipped Beauty; they made her their idol, their goddess, their queen. She controlled all.
Such was it that by the time she had become a young woman her name had changed once more – and now everybody called her Power. Power exalted in this name granted to her by her fellow human beings and proceeded to have a crown manufactured for herself on which her name was inscribed for all to see. She became so full of herself that there was no space left for her in which she could continue to expand, nor could her bloated ego grow any further. It neared its peak, its limits. Her ways became stiff and cold, lifeless. She could not find any further height to reach and claim. She became an ornament herself.
And very soon her name became Rigidity. For rigidly fixed was she to the dogged attachment to vanity, beauty and power. She bore no love for other human beings. Frightening and strange became her ways. Rigidity detested her new name intensely and tried to rigidly hold on to the previous one and to thus force the people to keep on calling her by it, but the people, like people like to do, persisted in calling Rigidity by the newest name they had given to her. And the harder she resisted it, the louder they called it.
It happened that, at this time, owing to her persistent attachment to old forms, her health broke down. By the time she recovered, her face, older, less beautiful, remained marked by the deep scars of her illness and struggles, and there was a tired ring to her voice. And, for some unknown reason, the people at this point began to call her Lesson. They pointed at her and said: “Lesson, Lesson, Lesson!” And Lesson saw that they were but pointing her out to the new, young beauty in town and pointing out her own destiny to her too. Lesson was very dejected. Sadly she sneaked out of town in the dead of night and wandered lost and lonely, trying to put a finger on what exactly had gone wrong in her life. And Lesson spent many years trying to understand life. Many lonely years.
And during these years of her travels, fellow wayfarers who saw her simply dubbed her with the name Simplicity, for she walked silent and alone and appeared to do all her things simply. When Simplicity found out that this was her new name, it seemed to her that there was a hidden message and clue in this name. She then began to consciously strive to do all things simply, to think simply and to cultivate true simplicity of the soul. Finally Simplicity settled down in a little hut in a little village where she cultivated farms and gardens and grew to love children and nature.
The people of the village loved exceedingly this obviously aristocratic yet so modest, archaic stranger who had come to live amongst them and, inspired by her ways, they named her Humility. This name struck the surprised Humility with such great humbleness that she again, using it as a guiding star, started striving consciously after true humbleness and humility in her life, in order to become worthy of the name. Humility was ever ready to carry out even the lowliest of tasks and was never too proud to speak up for the truth when she saw it being denied, or even to fight for it, no matter how much of a fool she might appear in the eyes of others for doing so; for in her newfound humility it no longer mattered to her what others thought of her. Because true humility is strength, not weakness, as we all know.
The people of the village learnt much from Humility, who was by now rather an old woman, and gradually they recognised the absolute magnificence of the beautiful female spirit that occupied her old body – which revealed to them the essence of true inner beauty – and, unanimously, they agreed to change her name to Beauty! And so, for the second time in her life, Beauty was called Beauty again, but now for a genuine reason, for the truest of beauty is the beauty of the heart.
Many more years has Beauty now lived amongst the people of this dear and beautiful village, and it is Beauty herself who is now writing down her own long and eventful story. Except that now – now that this village has become a place of that true heavenlike peace and beauty which she has always borne hidden, deep, within her maturing soul – Beauty’s name is no longer Beauty, but she now bears an other and final name which will be the one that will be etched unto her grave tablet when this old, warm body of hers is finally returned to earth. And what do you think this her ninth name is? – It might be Service; or Leadership; or Strength; it could be Love; or perhaps Peace; or even Heaven. It may also be Purity; or Guide; or Guardian; or maybe it could be Mirror. Choose for yourself, every woman out there, do.
I am simply what I should be.
Emptiness always makes the greatest noise. Would that emptiness could learn to become silent, that it may be true and become filled.
Goodbye, Earth. – – –
The beautiful old woman died two days after writing down her own story; and when she was buried, the grateful village people inscribed upon her grave stone the single word…:
– Che Chidi Chukwumerije (from my collection of short and inspiring stories and essays titled „There Is Always Something More“)
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