Vanity or Allodoxaphobia?

Between 1:30 and 4:30 this morning, I felt like I was in limbo, between periods of semi-consciousness and being wide-awake. The whistling, wheezing sounds of my breathing—coupled with constant bothersome aches and cramps in the muscles in my arms and legs—kept me awake enough that sleep was impossible. But even those intrusions on my consciousness did not prevent me from drifting in and out of a dream-like state. I was sufficiently conscious to recognize I was only semi-conscious, but unconscious enough to merge my conscious experience with a daydream of sorts. The experience felt like I was inside a bag made of a cloth strong enough to prevent me from breaking out but translucent enough to make out outlines of people and things around me. At the same time, I knew the experience was not real, but I could not force my consciousness to fully emerge. Finally, at 4:30, I broke free of the in-again, out-again experience; I awoke and went about my day.

First task: put my clothes in the clothes washer and fill the detergent dispenser; but I will wait until a little later, when there’s no risk of waking someone softly sleeping, to start the cycle. The machine is not especially quiet. Later still, when the clothes are clean and dry, I will don my painting apparel and subject myself to the stretches and bends and other abnormal movements that painting requires. Tonight, I will again suffer the attendant cramps and aches. For now, though, I will enjoy my coffee and think with my fingers.


I questioned whether I was wideawake or wide-awake this morning, so I looked up the words. To my surprise, wideawake refers not to a state of consciousness but to a style of hat. The most common visual expressions of the hat may be seen in two Rembrandt paintings and the Quaker Oats logo. Also, a photo of Alfred Lord Tennyson shows him wearing the wideawake style hat.

Speaking of hats, it has been months since I have worn either of my two fedoras. I’ve worn my grey French driving cap only once; my two other French driving caps have been hanging in my closet, ignored and unused, for months. I like the idea of wearing a hat or cap more than I like the reality of how I look in them. Put bluntly, when I wear headgear, I think I look like I’m trying to look like someone I want to be but who I’m not. I know I should not give a damn what other people might think of how, based on my choice of clothing accessories, I look. But I sheepishly admit to vanity and to giving more weight to others’ opinions than I should. In exploring this phenomenon of social over-sensitivity, I came across the following description of people who care too much for others’ opinions of what they wear, do, say, etc.. According to someone who claims expertise in the topics, they have:

“…highly sensitive nature, low self-esteem, insecurities, self-doubt and lack of self-confidence and these are also can be associated with the range of mild to serious psychological problems such as anxiety, fear, or depression.”

Hmm. And I encountered a word that’s new to me: allodoxaphobia, which means “fear of other people’s opinions.”

The person who claims expertise may have nailed me. Though I doubt my tendency to give too much credence to others’ opinions of me is the cause of whatever psychological problems I may have. Actually, some days I do not give even half a small damn what others think of me or my appearance. I prefer those days; but they are not frequent enough. It feels good, when wearing sweats and a t-shirt and a hat and flip-flops in public places like restaurants and the theater, to utterly dismiss what others think about my dress. Alas, some people would not want to be seen with me when I’m attired that way. They seem to think old men should have more decorum. Bah!


Still speaking of dress and decorum, if I could be properly fitted by a professional tailor, I might feel different about occasionally being dressed to the nines. I actually might like wearing a perfectly-tailored sport coat, slacks, button-down shirt, and polished leather shoes. When I dressed “professionally,” I sometimes did not mind the uniform at all, except for the tie. Ties are pure, unadulterated decoration designed for discomfort. But I might wear a cape or a cloak. A couple of years ago, I wrote about capes and cloaks. I still haven’t gotten either. Though I eschew “fashion” as a celebration of unchecked vanity, I rather like certain fashionable clothing. More hypocrisy on display. Such is life. I am a hypocrite when hypocrisy is appropriate.


We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.

~ Arthur Schopenhauer ~


We sit in front of our televisions and computers, watching the spasms of war as we collectively spiral around a drain constructed of greed and the lust for power. There’s little we can do but scream and rant. Perhaps a few, though, will throw Molotov cocktails into places Putin might be hiding. And a few more will explore ways of permanently silencing an aging instrument of the KGB by setting off explosive devices to emphasize their distaste for Soviet-style dictatorships. Maybe highly-trained ex-Soviet marksmen with a distaste for imperialism and unprovoked invasions will position themselves and their Kalashnikov AK-204 assault rifles so that their bullets will find and will cure the cause of the latest human-made global crisis.

There is a spiritual hunger in the world today – and it cannot be satisfied by better cars on longer credit terms.

~ Adlai Stevenson I ~

I find it odd that I can yearn, deeply, for peace, yet when war is thrust upon me—even at a great distance and outside my sphere of personal interest or influence—I can become enamored of inflicting unrelenting violence on the initiating warriors. I wonder whether the initiating warriors feel the same about peace-mongers; whether they want to subject the peace-mongers to unrelenting soothing. No, of course not. Our attitudes are different. We are made of different psychic material.


The shower is tiled (but not yet grouted) in the new house. The master bedroom, the staging point for the tile cutting, etc., looks like a war zone. The rest of the house looks only moderately better now that it did before I cleaned it up yesterday. Eventually the house will be habitable. I keep telling myself that.


You are now free to go about your Sunday. Here, take this hug and kiss and let it energize your day.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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