I was went to mass earlier in a church located in the middle of the business district. It was 12pm so men and women in business attire flocked the church as it coincided with their lunch breaks. I thought to myself, maybe a month from now, I'll be wearing the same outfit (only more chic) and working my ass to establish a successful career. And then what happens?
If you probe deeper, Ash Wednesday reminds us of what really matters in the end. It's not the money nor the prestige, but I think it's the relationship we have with others that allows us to transcend beyond our limitedness as human beings.
Maybe that's why fasting and abstinence are incorporated in the observance of lent. No one abstains from being with his family or communicating with their friends, right? It teaches us to detach from these worldly desires to help us see and value what's really important. So maybe no matter what religion you're in, you will be able to appreciate and learn something from this 40 day tradition.