Years ago, when department stores wanted to showcase their apparel, mannequins became the preferred vehicle. Over time, we have grown accustomed to seeing them in the windows of the stores we shop. But it may not have dawned on us that the mannequins always remain faceless or headless.

No, there’s not a dark side to this. They are designed that way so that we can project our own face upon them – picture ourselves in that tight little sequin dress or GQ smoker’s jacket.

The marketers don’t want us to see anyone else in those chinos; they want us to see “us” in them. And I’ll take it one step further – they want us to see a better version of “us” in those chinos.

In a consumer-based – strike that – in a consumer-addicted world, it’s clear we’re all just looking for better versions of ourselves. Therefore, it’s not only easy to picture our face on the mannequin, it’s becoming part of our DNA.

As Dave Ramsey likes to say, “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”

I’m sure that over the course of history, each generation can lay claim to “this-is-the-scariest-of-times” idea. Certainly, I can’t imagine that someone living through the Great Depression or any other worn-torn period of time would empathize with a bunch of namby-pambies who worry about whether their wifi is working at 30,000 feet or that their jeans are ripped in the right spot.

But it’s pretty scary when you become so enamored with buying the new version of you that you start to lose, well, you.

It has been written that seeds are typically laid within open stretches of fertile soil. And when these seeds are planted in an area devoid of weeds and rocks, nourishment is provided. But when a seed finds its way upon rocky ground, a lack of attention will ensue. A flower may sprout among those rocks, but without the proper fertilizer, it ultimately dies.

When we buy things we don’t truly need, we’re feeding discontentment. In other words, when we choose to see ourselves upon that mannequin, we’re indicating we’re not content with what we have and how we are living. On some level, we believe that new trinket will lead to happiness.

So, yes, I really believe these are scary times. If we’re not careful, we may no longer be able to picture ourselves on those faceless mannequins. What’s worse is that if we continue to define ourselves by material possessions we soon may become faceless.

This all translates to how we conduct business in the modern day. The world is rocky and full of complexity. Consequently, it’s difficult to nurture connections among that noise. But remember – a little nourishment can grow relationships in the most uncomfortable of spaces. That may not feed our immediate need for a better version of ourselves, but it should feed our souls and make the world less scary.

I’d rather be deep and simple than shallow and complex. So, I choose a simpler life. And while that does not mean I aim to live off the grid, it does mean I aim to live for others and let go of the mannequin in the window one relationship at a time.