All that Glitters is Not Gold

Riding my bike on the Boise Greenbelt, I’ve peddled farther from home than I’ve been before. The day is hot, flirting with 100 degrees. In the distance, mirage-like, I see light glinting off what looks like — from this distance — a ginormous set of braces.

Maybe it’s the heat inside my helmet, but my mind conjures visions of a lemonade-type stand with ice-cold beverages for sale. (I’m wearing a one-gallon CamelBak full of cold water, but this makes for much better reading)

Hard-packed dirt on many long stretches, the greenbelt is not all smooth blacktop. Streaks of sweat trail my dust-covered calves and ankles as I pedal closer to what I’ve confidently determined is a sanctuary for refreshment…

…only to discover that the shimmering flashes of light I’d seen earlier are from sun ricocheting off razor wire surrounding a storage facility. Oh, the disappointment!


Like fools gold, just because something looks alluring doesn’t mean it’s genuine or valuable.

Have you ever experienced “all that glitters is not gold?”

© Laurie Buchanan

Find me on Twitter @TuesWithLaurie
Find me on Facebook

68 thoughts on “All that Glitters is Not Gold

  1. My brother-in-law once walked into his cottage kitchen and saw what he thought was a curled up brown leaf blown in by the wind. He kicked it with a toe only to discover that it was a brown present that an untrained puppy had left behind. That definitely wasn’t gold!

  2. Laurie, when I tried to locate the perfect word for my book title, I decided “glittering” was right. We all know the allure of distant beauty and the disappointment of intimate discovery. In my case, I could only recognize the gold beneath my feet after I had chased some of what glittered ahead. Hence the title of my memoir: Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a GLITTERING World.

  3. When I was about seven there was a man who used to come to our local club ie community center . He was always very bubbly and made friends very easily with everyone . One week he came with his wife and small daughter . His daughter had a walkie talkie doll ,do you remember them Laurie ?. I was hooked …I wanted that doll if I had to murder the little girl for it lol . The man could see I was took with it, and with a beaming smile, promised me one just the same the following week .

    My dad told me not to hold him to his word and that not all adults could be trusted . I completely ignored my dad and ticked every day , every hour even , off till next week at the club.

    When the next week arrived, my dad was right, the man never showed up, and when he eventually did, weeks after, he never mentioned the doll .

    That was my first experience of ‘not all that glitters ‘. It just proves you can never trust anyone but your daddy …and a very good husband like yours and mine Laurie .


  4. Oh, the disappointment, Laurie! At least you had your water! 🙂

    I think everyone has experienced that, but I agree with Change it up editing above, sometimes you do find something that is better than expected. I think that is particularly true when it comes to the wonders of nature, but it could easily apply to personal expectations.

  5. Even my cousins in Australia are sending me ways to make money these days. Every job I have had has never paid off in a real salary ( except for the 2 years I split a salary at EVERGREEN STATE COLLEGE – teaching ethics) I have tried so many things…they all catch my eye with possibility. I am a producer’s dream according to my father! I feel so guilty with all these political ads asking for money right now…And yet it is the Golden Vision of setting up Women’s Health Clinics in Chicago, Texas and my home state which has given me great, lemonade joy – I worked on Mental Health Issues and even though I had to fund raise each trip and each motel it was worth every minutes – makes me sad to see the Texas clinics all closed this past two years. Guess that’s the razor wire to the vision.

  6. If we expect that glitter to be a certain way then, yes, it may disappoint us. I am sitting here admiring the shining weaving of that fence and thinking how we’re so often attracted to the glitter because it has something to show us, to teach us. It can show us the shadow side we’re not acknowledging. It can teach us what we don’t want to embrace. So perhaps it is gold after all, depending on how we turn our lens of perspective. Thanks for another thoughtful post–I thought about this for a couple of hours before responding.

  7. Hi Laurie

    Far more times than I could recount in a day.
    Being conned by James Power was one such.

    Having quite consciously and intentionally spent over 40 years trying out as many different things as I deemed prudent in as many different domains as I deemed prudent (which to many occurred as extremely imprudent), I am very clear that our senses and our brains are quite easily fooled by a large number of different phenomenon (most of which most people seem unaware of),
    Thus the majority of people can be quite easily influenced in particular directions of thought and behaviour by the metaphorical equivalent of “glitter” to our neural networks. The science behind advertising and politics is quite amazing in this respect (and a big part of why the last newspaper I bought was in July 1984).

    Training all aspects of mind to be alert for the glitter can involve immersion is aspects of glitter.

    And yes – expectations can be a major issue, at every level. Maintaining the discipline of questioning our expectations, even our most tried and tested expectations, at all levels, is difficult, and not something attempted by very many. It seems that most people prefer to live in the certainty of a world of shared illusion rather than face the fundamental uncertainty that seems to actually underlie this existence we find ourselves in.

    The fundamental attraction of certainty (at all levels of brain) is powerful. The logic and mechanics of why this is so are clear enough, yet the experiential reality of living it is something quite different from the intellectual understanding. Discipline, at any level, holds its own dangers – no easy way out of the “glitter trap”.

    It seems clear to me that the “glitter” of certainty is the most dangerous thing facing humanity at this stage in our evolution; and quite possibly for some considerable time to come.
    Years of experience in boats on the surface of the ocean can help to prepare the mind for uncertainty at a particular level, and it sets up its own expectation functions promising certainty at another level – an infinite nest of certainty glitter, all illusion.

    Every distinction we make holds the possibility of a “glitter trap” in this sense, as the probability that reality is in fact as we distinguish it is actually rather low in many cases. Cultivating skepticism at this level can be very hard on relationships with people firmly attached to certainty – it leaves very little in the realm of interpretation that is shared.

    So yes – a powerful analogy to contemplate and act upon at all levels of thought and awareness and being.

  8. Your post took my mind temporarily off the sadness of my Mother’s passing yesterday. She lived into her sunset years and had a glittering ending. No fool’s gold – She was the genuine article. I aspire to her golden example. I love your fable – and the shimmering illustration to match.

    • Marian – When I read your post today, I learned from someone’s comment that it was you mother who had passed away. My heart is breaking for you. It doesn’t matter our age, or their age, to lose a parent is heartbreaking. If I remember correctly, she was 97 years young. She was a fortunate woman, indeed, to have you as her daughter.

  9. Laurie, in my lifetime, I have encountered many glittering things that I felt I must have or lead a life of deprivation. Oddly enough, most of those things are gone now and I don’t feel deprived at all. Just relieved that I know longer have to care for or about them. Even gold itself has a way of disappearing. These days I find my gold in the beauty of a day, the laugh of a grandchild, the pleasure of a friend, and the joy of waking to a new day in the morning. This sort of gold is much easier to carry around and is not subject to theft. Very interesting post, glad it gave me the opportunity to count my gold!

    • “These days I find my gold in the beauty of a day, the laugh of a grandchild, the pleasure of a friend, and the joy of waking to a new day in the morning.”

      Sandi – You are rich, indeed! 🙂

    • FatimaSaySell – I have a teaching friend who would heartily agree with you. And next to parents, teachers are the most important, influential people for future generations, so this is a very sad commentary.

      • I know. When I was growing up, we had great respect for teachers and never argued or insulted them; it was just not done. You’d be shocked to walk into a classroom and find the kind of language and abusive behaviour we have to put up with.

  10. When I was a child I first learned about mirages on a very long and very straight highway across southern Florida. Bored out of my mind (because I would get carsick if I read in the car) I was perched on the edge of the back seat, arms resting on the front seat, looking ahead at the horizon and pestering my poor parents. This was before the era of seat-belts. I kept seeing “water” on the road on the horizon, but we never got to it. And so my father began a lengthy (and most welcome) science lesson about optical illusions…

    • Barbara – I love the story you recounted here! It stirred my own memories of pre-seat-belt family road trips.

      And you know what? I get car sick if I read in a moving vehicle, too! Thank goodness for today’s books on tape 🙂

  11. I admire you for cycling in such heat, it does make for interesting experiences, and blog ideas. As always your photography is stunning, you’ve captured the mirage! Enjoy the rest of your week, stay hydrated. ☼

  12. Yes over the years Laurie I’m afraid there have been numerous instances where this is true. We saw this entire theme play out this week during our all-too-brief getaway to Seaside Heights. In the arcade the kids collected several thousand “tickets” only to discover they would secure an item worth maybe five dollars! Ha!

    Fool’s Gold was the major theme BTW in the American classic film THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE by John Huston.

    Great post!

  13. Hoi Laurie,
    Your text about the cycle tour you wrote skillfully and he like it very much. Yes, there are everywhere in life mirages and with us the saying is called in German, too; it’s not all that glitters is gold. Greetings Ernst

    • Ernst – I’m glad you enjoyed the bicycle ride story. We do a lot of bicycling here in Boise, Idaho. I’m glad the proverb “Everything that glitters is not gold” was familiar to you. Thank you for stopping by.

      Ernst – ich bin froh, dass du das mit dem Fahrrad Geschichte. Wir haben uns sehr intensiv mit Fahrrad fahren hier in Boise, Idaho. Ich bin froh, dass die Redewendung “Alles, was glänzt ist Gold” war ihnen bekannt. Schön, dass sie da sind.

      • vielen Dank Laurie ! Du bist eine nette Frau, ich mag deinen Blog und wünsche dir eine angenehme Zeit.

        Thank you Laurie! You’re a nice woman, I really like your blog and wish you a pleasant time.

  14. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Laurie encourages interaction following her posts and this one is no exception. I think we have all been taken in by the enthusiasm of someone who is charasmatic, seemingly knowledgeable and passionate about a project or a venture. We then find having shared what we thought was a vision that it is in fact just a pipe dream. Don’t get me wrong I am a day dreamer of the first order but involving others demands something more substantial.

  15. Laurie, your space here is incredible! Thank YOU for what you are doing for this world! And to answer your question …. oh yes. Those are Life’s hard punch Lessons, mainly as to how will I “re-act” or not? Hopefully I am awake enough to know that there is a Lesson involved here somewhere, and walk away wiser. Hopefully …. (smile) …..

  16. I was once absolutely certain that landing the big corporate job would fulfill my every dream, and although it did have positive benefits (larger salary, increased confidence, room for growth) it certainly had it’s glittery underbelly of disappointment, too

  17. I agree. Sometimes things are NOT what they appear to be!
    There was a squirrel who used to come and sit on my front porch, and lean up against the glass door–staring at my rather large Seal Point Siamese cat. I think that maybe, just maybe, the squirrel thought he was the most handsome and largest male squirrel that she had ever seen. (The color of his fur does resemble the colors of a squirrel)..What a terrible awakening she would have had—if he could have gotten beyond that door. Not good!
    I put the photos of her staring at him in my post “Glass Door Relationships.”
    The poor little squirrel needed glasses!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.