Keeping Up Appearances

work for a cause

“Keeping Up Appearances” is a title of a British comedy starring the late Patricia Routledge. Everything about the opening sequence is prim and proper. The music has an upstanding tempo and sound. Mrs. Bucket (pronounced bouquet) is dusting and she is selecting a book on Modern Etiquette. She is preparing invitations and her house for one of her candle-light suppers. Everything looks impressive with the exception of the green caterpillar in one of the flowers and all of the books fall down. Mrs. Bucket (pronounced bouquet) dramatically rolls her eyes. This opening sequence shows that no matter how much she works to “keep up appearances”, life has a way of unraveling all of that work in a split second. It is a snap back to reality.

Is recognition really that important? Must we go through life trying to impress others? Should we always make our presence known? What matters is the value assigned to things in life. If these things are important to you then your answer will be the affirmative. Some people like Mrs. Bucket (pronounced bouquet) have to impress others with their wealth and knowledge. She hides one set of family members who are living on welfare and praises her son at university who borrows money every chance he gets and her rich sister with her cross-dressing husband.  Her husband endures her efforts with his patient personality.  Mrs. Bucket (pronounced bouquet) must be recognized for certain social achievements and advancements.  Everywhere she goes it is imperative that she be acknowledged. These things are worthy in her life.

Yet wealth can go in a day. At death, it is left to the mercy of your lawyers and descendants. Knowledge is useful when it is applied appropriately. Knowledge is fleeting. It can be taken away due to the relevance of a situation. Everything that makes sense at one time may be non-sense at another time. Climbing the social ladder may seem wonderful at first, but it is rather lonely at the top. In addition to the loneliness there is a sense of others trying to steal your position and the necessity to keep it at all costs. Here the old adage rings true as “pride goes before a fall.” The fall from the top is very far and not pretty at all.  In another sitcom “Cheers” the opening song croons that you want to be “where everybody knows your name.” It feels good for a while. However that’s all they know: your name and they do not know the essence of who you really are.

Instead of using all the energy to keep up appearances, try to channel that same energy on working on who you really are on the inside. Instead of seeking recognition ask yourself if it is really worth it. Then focus your energies on the real meaning behind your worth and your work. How are you making life better for other people? Channel your energy into expressing your beliefs through your life, instead of rushing around to make everything look perfect. Just like the caterpillar in the flower or the books falling down on the shelf in the opening sequence of Keeping Up Appearances, life can shatter that perfect façade in a split second. Don’t be afraid to speak when you know and don’t be afraid to say that you don’t have a clue about a subject but be willing to learn. Humility is a wonderful value to emulate in life learning situations. Express your emotions, feelings and ideas through positive outlets and it will make a difference in not only your life but in others as well.


As you are making a difference from a humble perspective it is essential to listen to the truth. If you are in a situation where lies permeate escape it by silently slipping away to a retreat or excusing yourself from that place and space. Silence and a smile speak volumes. There is a quotation by Abraham Lincoln that notes:  “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” From that quotation, make your absence felt. It is better to be missed than to always want to be in the spotlight. Whenever Mrs. Bucket (pronounced bouquet) came to any social gathering or even went outside, people ran away from her. It appeared to be quite comical to see others running away from her but upon careful consideration,  it is quite unfortunate to see that the same people she was trying to impress were trying their utmost to get away from her presence. When people miss someone they try even harder to go out of their way to see them. As another old adage notes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Appearances are temporal. They are not always as they seem. However your actions towards someone’s life can last for a long while. Act wisely and let them associate you with fond memories and not try to run away from you every time they see you or hear your name.



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