All is vanity.

Posted by Fisheater on April 8, 2017


I'm not religious. So why am I about to write a whole post about something religious? Because (1) I can and (2) it may change the way you think about life.

The Origin of "All is vanity"

This phrase comes from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. Here, "vanity" does not mean self-pride--it means useless, worthless, purposeless. All is vanity--anything and everything is purposeless. In other words, our existence is meaningless. According to Solomon, life should be about putting God first.

The Famous Drawing

A quick Google search of the phrase "All is vanity" will lead you to a famous drawing made by Charles Allan Gilbert in 1892 called All Is Vanity:

In this drawing, a woman is admiring herself as she looks into a mirror on top of a dressing-table, or vanity (and hence a pun from the title). At a distance, the drawing looks like a human skull.

This drawing adds a new "layer" of meaning onto the preexisting one: we shouldn't waste excessive amounts of time basking in our own arrogance. Moreover, the human skull reminds us of our own mortality. Before we know it, we're all going to be dead. Gilbert is ultimately making a statement that we should focus on the well-being of others and not just ourselves.

It's kind of funny because I remember seeing this image appear in one of my visual culture classes in college. It can feel so strange when someone introduces you to something so familiar.

My Message To You

Well, I actually have two messages:

(1) You should give your life a good purpose. If your purpose is to gain all of the money in the world and sit on a pedestal above everyone else, then you're looking at it all wrong. Being shallow and arrogant will only ever drag you to the pits. Instead, the purpose of our lives should be to help others.

The purpose of my life is to make peoples' lives easier and more enjoyable through the means of technology. If I can make a positive impact on at least one person, then my whole life will be justified.

(2) Life shouldn't be about giving in. Don't let society swallow you whole. In today's world, it's easy for society to mold you into an egotistical person. Instead, be yourself. I can almost guarantee you that staying true to yourself is the first step in finding your way to happiness.

"All is vanity... Everything can make you vain and full of just conceit... especially when you're trying to achieve goals. Once you're full of that pride, it never leads to anything good. It takes your focus off what really matters in life." -Christina V. Grimmie


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