This link tells the story of the overvaluation of tulip bulbs in Holland, back in the day. On Howard Street alone, there are several shoe stores. Customers associate the shoes with a star athlete or entertainer, and they become coveted trophies. There are stories of people who have killed or been killed in efforts to obtain these shoes.
These are still just shoes, right? Good shoes should be good to our feet, end of story. It would be nice that they look good, but the rest of it has no substance other than what we give it. Seven shoe stores are doing business on Howard Street! And, yet, Shi lao's restaurant of nourishing and well prepared food closes. At least Shi lao doesn't need to worry that someone will approach her with a weapon and threaten, "Give me all your beef and broccoli!" (I’m assuming, of course, that most shoe stores don’t barter in carry-out.) Except that, like any thief, a criminal acts out of desperation, jealousy, or laziness...and always self-preserving fear.
I don’t get it. If I were to wear Shi zu’s black shirt, that won’t make me a better practitioner. If I were to get his back tattoo, it would not help me to use less effort to throw a strike or do my jumping jacks.
Fashion doesn’t make people better as much as it makes them feel like they’re “keeping up,” but with what? An illusion inside another illusion? I’m sure that whoever said, “Clothes make the man,” was a clothing salesperson trying to make a buck...maybe an artist whose words everyone else took waaay too seriously.
If someone wants to appreciate (even collect) shoes, then so. Value will always be a point of contention among egos, and we will always have ego in the world. There are new ones being born every second of every day. But to have the shoes and all they represent without the personal substance to obtain them--or better yet, to transcend their symbolism--is just...part of the path, I suppose. [I was going to say sad.] After all, it’s not just shoes: it’s houses, cars, even common flowers.
If not for the ego--that aspect of us that is, for all intents and purposes, merely the starting point of any human's journey through life--we wouldn't have inventions, ambition, emotion, greed, fear, and all those crazy aspects that permit us to revel in liberation from them. It’s a mixed blessing of sorts...but should we expect anything less from life??
(I think (not).) ;)