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Trumpery – by definition an attractive article of little value or use; something that is showy but worthless.
Isaiah asks “why do you spend your life on that which is not bread, and your labor on that which does not satisfy?”
There are days when I feel like my life is filled with trumpery.
Sometimes I find myself scrolling through online shopping sites thinking, wow, that looks really cool. And they are going to ship it for free? I know I don’t need that, but how can I resist? I’m willing to admit, sometimes I fall prey to this and give in to the temptation. Rarely does it satisfy. Trumpery.
I once bought a trail bike when I was living in Arizona. It looked rugged and sturdy. I bought it used and couldn’t believe the price I was getting it for. The first time I took it out on the trails it started falling apart I had to carry it home. I never rode it again. Trumpery.
I have a whole rack of ties in my closet. I will be shopping and see a pattern or a color I know I don’t have and think, “someday I am going to need that exact color” and so I buy it. When I realize I don’t have a shirt or a pair of socks or just the right shade of pants to match it – well, you know. That tie will sit for years before I wear it. Trumpery.
One time, I met a guy on the first tee of a golf course and we would end up matching up and playing a round together. While we waited for the group in front of us to clear, he started bragging about his new clubs. I will admit, they were pretty top of the line and fancy. Next, he bragged about his new ball. It was so advanced in its technology that it came with a lifetime guarantee. Man, he thought that was the best. Sure, he said, he paid more for it but it was guaranteed for life. Bragged about how if the ball got a cut or scrape all he had to do was mail it back and get a new one. When the fairway cleared, he took out his brand new top of line clubs, teed up that expensive but life-time guaranteed ball, and promptly hit it about 100 deep into the forest just to the right of the tee box. Man, did I laugh at that. Trumpery.
I love playing in my wood shop. And when I walk through a hardware store, all I can see are tools I don’t have that I know someday I am going to need. I have a workshop full of really cool tools, some of which I use over and over again; some of which sit there looking shiny and new for years that I never touch and wonder why I even bought them or what I thought I would ever do with them. Trumpery.
Baubles and trinkets and doodads and devices and knickknacks and ornaments and gewgaws and frippery and playthings and trifles abound and attract and allure and entice. Rarely do they satisfy. Such is the nature of mere trumpery, and of our proclivity to be taken in by it.
Indeed, one might again ask: why do you spend your life for that which is not bread and your labor for that which does not satisfy.
In the end, I don’t know that there is any real harm in trumpery. The emptiness of it will not satisfy, and the attractiveness being only on the surface it will almost always disappoint. But no one is going to suffer any great loss buying a trinket that collects dust only to be discarded after a season.
Eventually we learn that. We discover that the things that last are worth our time and devotion. Friendship and love, trustworthiness and integrity, compassion and kindness, laughter and joy – and so many things besides. May your life be filled with a sense of purpose and value. May you avoid the distraction of trumpery. And may your encounters along the way with people and moments and memories be what occupy your interests and time on this, our journey Into the Mystic.