‘The grass which you disregard will injure your eye’ – Hausa proverb
What appeals to one sense is usually pleasing to our other senses as well. For example, when our eyes lock on beauty the pleasure it derives exercises a seductive fascination over our other senses. They sort of influence them to toe their line. Likewise, when the nose smells a great aroma the message it sends to other senses is simply, ‘the food will be good’. The appeal of that one sense holds sway over the others until they all actually get to experience it too. And this is the way it is with our perceptions of the ‘strivings of life’.
We have reduced our sense of appreciation to the impressions of a feature; and so the world around us is always striving to impress us. Everyone, everywhere you go is displaying their best behaviour simply to impress you. And in all honesty, we all seem to love it until it stings. All around us, impressions are consolidating their reign over us. Their sway over us has fairly bred out of us the reverence for holistic appreciation of actions, with the result that it is extremely difficult to deduce the genuineness in what is real and what is a facade.
We are all victims and perpetuators. On the surface it looks alright and vigorous; yet the poison works its way up, persistently, until it reaches the surface. We say ‘dress the way you want to be addressed’, and yet when we are swindled by ‘well-dressed’ individuals we complain. Who are you really complaining about… and who are you complaining to?
The reality is that we are all being poisoned by impressions. From the employee who was so impressive at the interview and yet cannot get anything done or done properly since his/her appointment; to the beautiful woman whose smiles swept you off your feet, but whose sullen attitude has depressed your world; or the flamboyant gentleman who promised you the world and now treats you like a product. And before I forget, the soft-spoken, well-cultured person who got you to part with a huge sum of money in the name of making the world a better place and you haven’t heard from him/her since.
Life around us is being stunted by impressions – false ones. And this is killing what is healthy in our impulses. But it is equally true that we have unleashed this terror upon ourselves. We bequeathed it to ourselves when we decided to look out for only a couple of features instead of appreciating the whole. The convenience of modernity has left in its wake the reign of impressions’ tyranny and crimes. And it is doing so by crushing the manifestation of sincerity in our attitudes. It is instilling in us a narrowness of perceptions by forcing us to accept the conventional lie of ‘a means to an end’. What this means is that a great many of us are pretending in our relationships and in our aspirations.
But life as we know it evolves on multiple variations of beauty and goodness, all centred on love. It is a gargantuan panorama of diversity blending into each other for all eternity. The movement of this diversity brings about change, and the appreciation of it brings out beauty in life and joy in our hearts. The power of impressions, however, rests on fixations and rigid notions about life. We impress others to get them to accept us and our ideas. It is as if the real you is a curse, and to redeem it you must repudiate the natural and healthy version to upload an updated impressionist version. And so we learn to do a great many acts in ways that are detrimental to our natural impulses.
What we overlook about impressions is its cherished child – pretence. A pretence here and a pretence there and we find ourselves tired and weary, unable to give out our very best. It is hypocrisy with a fury that leaves a trail of disease and disaster in its wake. But the saddest thing about impressing is that its perceptions are not uniformly positive. What arouses applause in one quarter will elicit revulsion and insults in another. And so, why would you want to impress anyone in the first place?
To impress is to rebel against the variations, liveliness and generosity of life. Do that means exchanging the sociability and fun of expressing you for the gloom of living according to the dictates of another individual – who is probably so miserable, misery finds his/her company boring. Just because that individual is in a certain position does not mean you should shape your shadow likewise. Your natural you is as necessary to life as the air we breathe. That natural you is a stimuli that invigorates our humanity and deepens our human fellowship. We love you the way you are, simply improve yourself – but not to impress anyone.
Kodwo Brumpon is a partner at Brumpon & Kobla Ltd. – a forward-thinking Pan African management consultancy and social impact firm driven by data analytics with a focus on understanding the extraordinary potential and needs of organisations and businesses, to help them cultivate synergies which catapult them into their strategic growth and certifies their sustainability.
Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at [email protected]