LIVING: You Actually Can Judge A Book By Its Cover
As the saying goes, "you can’t judge a book by its cover."
Facetiously, I’m in deep disagreement with this. It’s totally possible to judge a book by its cover. We do it everyday.
You do it.
I do it.
That person in line in front of you does it too.
I mean, if it were really true, if it were literally impossible to judge a book by its cover, then why does every book have a cover?
Of course, we’re not talking about books here. We’re talking about you and me. We’re talking about people, about how our internal is always externalized, and therefore the external is always a result and reflection of the internal.
Are you with me?
Look, I agree it’s impossible to know the full story from just an image or outer appearance. I’m not arguing that every assumption and conclusion drawn without “opening the book” or attempting to get to know someone is accurate. My argument is that the dismissal of the possibility of the “cover” being any indication of what’s inside is ludicrous.
Of course the exterior of things matters. Of course the cover of a book and the outer shell of a house and your outfit choice for today are reflections of something. And in the same way, as discussed in Monday’s Life Blog post, your physical life is all merely a tangible manifestation and reflection of your mental life.
Where we get mixed up, is assigning judgments to these reflections. So maybe the saying should be “You can judge a book by it’s cover, but it’s probably a better idea to just draw conclusions and leave the judging for after the reading.” (Although this version doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, I must admit.)
Here’s an example that’s sure to make the eyes of my dad, my boyfriend, my little sister and every other disorder junkie roll all the way back: disorder in your physical world is a reflection of some disorder in your mental world.
Before you lose your sh*t, hear me out, and remember the bit about not assigning judgements to these reflections. Saying, “My dad’s car is disordered,” is simply a statement. It’s not a judgment. No one is really in a place to say whether or not disorder is a good or a bad thing in and of itself. This is not about judging things, it’s about noticing connections between things.
His car, by definition, is not orderly ("neatly & methodically arranged," according to Merriam Webster.) He will tell you himself there is no method to where he places things in his vehicle other than "wherever I feel like putting them in the moment."
This physical lack of order (judgment free!) is a manifestation of his mental lack of order (again, judgement free!) On a beautiful spring Saturday when the day is his for the seizing, there is absolutely no method behind his use of time besides “whatever I feel like doing.” And who’s to say there’s anything right or wrong about that? Because he has no real order to his free days, he's insanely flexible with his schedule and always up for anything anyone proposes.
Contrast this with someone who is typically orderly in their physical world (me, my mom) and another link appears: because I have a method behind where I put things, I also have a method behind how I spend my time, and as a consequent, am not typically flexible with that time being re-arranged.
Do you see what I mean?
When we let go of judging the conclusions and connections between our physical world and mental world, they’re suddenly abundantly obvious.
The world preaches against judging books by their covers because we want people to see beyond a physical appearance into what truly matters, right? Great intentions behind this little idiom, but again, it’s skirting around an important issue: is it true that physical appearance plays absolutely no part in what matters? If you say, “yes,” I’m calling BS, not because I’m superficial, but because I think it’s ignorant to deny the link between someone’s appearance and their mindset and beliefs.
If this rubs you the wrong way, I suspect you’re getting caught up in the “judgement” zone again. I’m not condoning or encouraging judgement of others based on their physical appearance. I’m removing the judgment and pointing out the truth: there is a link between what you look like and what you feel like, how you look and how you think.
There is nothing “good” or “bad,” “right” or “wrong” about anyone’s choices to dress the way they dress or adorn their bodies with whatever art they choose, but to say that a sleeve of tattoos is zero reflection of someone’s beliefs and mindset is ridiculous. Don’t you think people with arms full of tattoos want to tell some message about themselves?
Our entire exterior world is a manifestation of our internal world.
It has to be. Without judging you, I can look at you and draw conclusions based on your outfit choice, posture, stature, etc. and you can do the same to me! The key is to keep our conclusions flexible and judgement free.
Many people will scoff at this, the way they scoffed on Monday’s accusation that who you are at work is who you are at home. But I think if you start to look around at your physical world— how you look, what you choose to wear, the order or disorder of your space, the arrangement and decoration of your home— you won’t be able to help but see the links between who you are inside and who you are outside.
(It’s kind of the point of expression, in my opinion.)
I’d love to know your thoughts on what I’m anticipating being a deep-thinking post for my readers brave enough to let my writing move beyond their eyes and into their heads.
Shoot me an email or message and let’s chat.