judging a book by its cover.

You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, or so they say.  But is that always true?

Well I say – “that cover looks really interesting”.
Maybe the author designed it?  Made it?  That’s cool!
Or maybe the author just chose the design.  Or inspired it.  Or selected the person who made it.
Maybe the cover resonates with me the same way the book will.
Or the same way it did for the people responsible for the book.
The book filled with ideas,
of that same stream of thought,
which I will be reading with a similar resonation.

Of course, sometimes an author puts a lot of work into a cover because there’s no other hope of selling it.
The book wasn’t really up to snuff,
it’s not going to appeal to the right group of people,
there’s something lacking that we can compensate for by making the cover look like this…

In my experience, the cover can be judged – as long as you know how to judge it.
You can judge a cover all you want if you look for its underlying intentions, or message, or motives.

If the book is designed to demonstrate what’s inside,
to capture the eyes of those and only those who know how to respect it or dare to try,
or even if it’s simple, unimpressive, and quiet……
Those are the books that want to be picked up by the right people.
Those books aren’t trying to impress.

But those books that are trying to look better than they are,
the ones striving to meet some elegant standard when the content itself isn’t worthy of that status,
when the cover is tailored perfectly but the inside is empty, bleak, dull,
Those books are trying to impress, and they’re shallow.

JUST LIKE PEOPLE.

And I’ve thought about that a lot lately.
How we judge people by their covers.
And how it’s actually okay to do that – if you know what you’re doing.

If you can perceive why someone is dressing/decorated/mannered the way he/she is,
and if you can consider his/her environment, drive, and most importantly message,
then you might really start to see people in a different light.

True, some people have a lot of tattoos.  And piercings.  Or dress very strangely.  But there’s a reason why they do it, and it might not be so obvious to you, the judging eyes, the person hiding behind your thoughts who could never be as brave as to dare to be that different.

But I see so many people in collared shirts who scoff at others, who earned top grades at school and can’t admit when they’re wrong, who study straight out of the book and lack total creativity, who LIE to people’s faces to win their favor, who SCHMOOZE to work their ways up corporate ladders,… Sometimes I see these people as fancy book covers, the ones who meet all the criteria of being something they’re only pretending to be.

I’m not saying I condone being one way or another because I believe a person has a choice to be how he or she wishes, I just feel like there’s too much hatred towards people who are different because, in reality, they’re daring and unafraid and completely their unconstrained selves.  And that scares people.  It threatens them.  And it’s so much easier to put down those who think outside of the box and dare to be different than it is to accept that cookie-cutter people aren’t always the best, most honest, good-hearted people.

Because they’re often times not.
I’ve worked with enough of them to know.
Enough to see that I want the people I surround myself to be whoever they are.

Whether they look cookie-cutter like, or if they look like those little cookie dough tidbits all stuck together again that didn’t quite make a whole cookie…
Whether they’re intriguing silent book covers, bright and flashy ones, or elaborate works of art…
Whether they dress from only one palette that suits them or if they wear whatever fit their budget that week at the store…
Whether they wear their hearts on their sleeves and come to me or if I have to slowly earn their trust for them to open up…

I just want them to be what they don’t need to try to be, and I don’t want them to try to be something that they aren’t.

Drawing Lines in Black and White.

applesoranges
“Just make a pros and cons list!” my close friend told me last week, as if the solution were that simple.  I was feeling so suddenly divided over my feelings for two people when I saw her.  I had been gravitating one direction, but being around her causes the scales to tip in her vote’s favor.  Of course she wanted me to make a list; she thought all I needed was stark contrast to see the obvious.  I wasn’t sure it would be that obvious.  Besides, how do you even compare people like that?
Case A                             Case B
smart                               smart
hard worker                  hard worker
tall and handsome     tall and handsome
nice                                   nice
No, no, not like that… that’s stupid.  Think harder.
Umm, okay…
Case A                      Case B
go-getter                   more laid-back
smooth-talker            trustworthy adventurous              reserved formal                        goofy
pragmatic                  dogmatic
Closer, doesn’t this help?
No, it doesn’t help.  These kinds of things aren’t black and white!  And you can’t just group people like that!
And so I struggle.
Case A.  Someone might be a go-getter and adventurous, but that could also mean they’re busy, hard to entertain, always just as easily pleased by the world around them.  That person might seem slick, but a smooth-talker could just be telling you what you want to hear – a politician.  A formal, assertive, confident presence can be just as concealing.  Yet pragmatic people, the ones who try to see the logic in things, the scientific light,…those people are often so much easier for me to relax around.  There’s room for debate.  There’s sifting through facts.  There’s entertaining the mind without fear of hurting someone’s feelings.  But does it provide perspective?  I like perspective.
This should be easy.  Why isn’t this easy?
Case B.  On the other hand, someone else might be more laid-back.  This could be good because it’s a comfortable place to be, but does that person ever go outside of the comfort zone?  That person may be obviously trustworthy, an excellent quality, but what if it’s at the expense of adventure because of how reserved and in-the-box one lives?  Goofy is good; similar humor is appealing and leads to fun times that require less formalities and that can be spontaneous.  Then my friend’s always saying, What about that dogmatic part?  The part so hell-bent on a certain perspective and way of living that any deviance is unwelcome?  Unaccepted?  It offers me perspective and conversation, which I like, but I don’t like feeling like my own opinions are invalid, like that person has the only possible right answers.
Finally, my friend forgets to realize it’s not just one-sided; how someone regards me, yearns for my company, makes an attempt – friendship, relationship, whatever – that plays an enormous part in my considerations, and understandable so I’d say.  So far, it has been that factor dictating the majority of my choices.
“Pros and cons list!  Pros and cons!”
I can’t just do that.  I love making lists to lead my life, but people are not black and white and divided by the thin line of a column on a piece of paper.
And the whole time, I cringe at the thought: Who is comparing me?