"You can't judge a book by it's cover." Well, that's somewhat true. I've always thought that romance novel covers pretty much told the whole story, and I'm more than happy to judge there. But there are times when a cover can be very cleverly deceiving. Sometimes our own covers are pretty yet hide a lot of nothing. I was reminded of this last week when we saw the new movie version of The Great Gatsby, and I can't stop thinking of it. It's probably what makes the story so enduring.
I've always loved F. Scott Fitzgerald's novels, although ironically enough Gatsby is not my personal favorite. The total sadness and emptiness of living for an ideal - often in the moment - though, streams throughout all his books. It's said that authors write what they know. For Fitzgerald, this is sadly true. He and his wife, Zelda, drank their money away - what they had, anyway - and fell into a ruinous relationship and a tragic end.
It's so easy for us today, as back in the jazz age, to keep reaching for the lives we wish we had, even if that means squandering our money, our time, and our health. We may not even realize what we're doing except in rare moments when we come face to face with our reflections and wonder how we got so lost. The characters in Fitzgerald's books - sometimes they knew, and cared. Sometimes they knew and didn't care.
In the jazz age, people chased or drowned their ideals by drinking, spending, and partying, by getting mixed up in the wrong crowds. Today we still chase or drown our ideals by wasting time on social media, by comparing our lives to others, by spending more than we have on something simply because "so and so has it so it must be necessary" (iproducts, anyone?). We all can look pretty on the surface. The '20s were a beautiful moment when art, fashion, music, and architecture collided. It's one of my favorite eras for dress, music, cocktails, art, literature, and architecture. But it was a cover that hid a lot of emptiness.
I'm not saying we should give up on ideals or dreams. I'm not saying we can't admire each other or different eras or beautifully made movies. I'm not saying that the world of art and beauty has no joy or place. I'm saying look deeper, at what fuels you. Where does your time go? What about your energy? Do you spend it making a life that truly reflects who you are and who you want to be? What kind of cover do you have? Does it start to tell the real story? Please don't be a beautiful yet vapid, selfish Daisy, turned here and there by suggestion, and please don't be a handsome, rich, yet lonely, desperate Jay, chasing a dream that everyone else can see is doomed. Be a man or a woman of substance, with dreams tempered in love and reality, with an uplifting story.. Make your cover gorgeous - but only because it's a taste of what lies deeper within.