Among the critical expressions that seem to hit the nail on the head for me, "feather merchant" stands near the front of the line. If I were a good Buddhist, of course I would not run around judging this and judging that, but I leave being a 'good Buddhist' to others. "Feather merchant" is just plain too tasty and descriptive and bang-on to surrender.
A "feather merchant" is variously described on Internet dictionaries. One synonym that seems to pop up frequently is "asshole," but "asshole" does not transmit the disdain that accompanies "feather merchant" in my mind. Assholes are a dime a dozen. Feather merchants are more wily.
Not quite complete, but making a good swing at a definition of "feather merchant" was this:
a person who rarely exhibits effort and/or responsibility and lets others do all the work; a loafer, slacker, dope-off, weasel; shirker, screw off, malingererRight -- feather merchants let others do the work and, more insidiously, credit themselves and expect others to credit them for having done some heavy lifting. They are visible in office settings, often rising through the chain of command smoothly. Their mediocrity can be infuriating to anyone doing the actual work.
But offices are not the only venue in which feather merchants make their mark. "A good Buddhist" or a "good Christian" can likewise shine. Clothed perfectly and using resplendent verbiage, the style is present and the substance goes begging.
Beyond this obvious stuff, I sometimes wonder about the feather merchants of my own mind. And what, as my mental tongue drips with venom when issuing my facile feather-merchant dictum, is the opposite of a "feather merchant?" The best I can think of as an antonym is "serious" -- a word that is equally slippery when trying to nail it down.
My "feather merchant" mind is clothed in self. It claims to love something and claims to be making an effort, but the pivotal fact is that it mixes self with what is allegedly beloved. My feather merchant mind does not love what it claims to love enough to be serious about it. Seriousness requires a willingness to fail, really fail, and then keep on going.
I suppose all of this is a bit airy-fairy, but it occurred to me today that it is important to keep an eye on my feather merchants. Living a feather-merchant life -- in little and large ways -- may assure applause from others, but the satisfaction within is curdled and lost. Always relying on others, life proves elusive and weak. It is a sad state of affairs.
My feather merchant mind whines like a teenager ... "but what about meeeeeee? Where's MY gold star? Why don't others love me as I love myself?" A feather merchant mind may serve as a springboard to seriousness, but equally possible, it may turn out to be a springboard for a feather merchant life. It's deceitful and icky.
Fortune cookie nostrums suggest, "Love is not what you get. Love is what you give." Sounds good, but I have my suspicions: What if love were simply what is ... no assistance needed, no equations necessary, no separations implied? What if the only real requirement for seriousness were simply to get the hell out of the way?
Love what you love and stop looking over your feather merchant shoulder.
Hate what you hate and stop looking over your feather merchant shoulder.
On behalf of a life that has some metaphorical substance and sand, just correct what needs correcting and in the meantime, sing in the shower ... loud!
Just noodling and getting nowhere in this feather merchant mind.