Monday, December 5, 2011


Mirrors are odd things. They're how we see ourselves, but it's a reversed seeing. Yet they're perhaps the most common way we know to visualize ourselves.

If I tell myself to touch the right side of my face, my hand goes up to touch my cheek. No problem. But looking in a mirror, touching the right side of my mirror-face, the hand wants to cross over.

It's as if my image were another person; that would be their right side. So what I see in the mirror is a perceptual mix of myself and an imagined 'other person' looking at me.

We see bits and pieces of ourselves in mirrors. I can brush my teeth before a mirror and come away with no idea whether or not my hair is tidy. I can see what I want to see to some degree. It becomes trickery to allow myself to see my image without that filter.

Such an odd thing to see yourself in a mirror unexpectedly. For a sharp moment you see a stranger. For an instant, you see yourself as others see you. Then the filters kick in and you see you.

Such honesty can be hard to bear, either from mirrors or from other people.

People are mirrors for one another. We mimic words and gestures of those we get close to, even of strangers. We are influenced by the moods written in their faces, their gestures, their voices.

We see how other people act. If we admire it, we want to take it in and reflect it back from ourselves. Smiling makes us feel happier. Acting strong changes our hormones and makes us strong. We can make ourselves to be more as we wish to be. Mirroring others is part of that process.

Friends reveal so much of who you are. Who are they when they're with you? Long term relationships can become reflections of reflections, both of you mirroring long-past conceptions or stages with perhaps no validity in the present. Habits. If you disrupt the reflections you fragment the relationship.

This can be good. It lets you both see one another as who you are, not who you are in your interpreted reflections of one another. But it can also mean that instead of a friend you see a stranger, and all you share now are those long-established mutually reflecting images.

A friend who reflects you truly – why does that happen? It can be hard to bear, to have to be honest with them and with yourself. It is also liberating. If they're still around after that honesty, they truly are a friend.

Friendship. Seeing another person for who they are, not who you want / need them to be. Taking what is weak or unkind in them and holding it in gentle hands, helping them accept and improve that part of themselves. Recognizing what is noble and wise in them and honoring that, taking it into yourself and giving it back to them with humility and gratitude. Giving them the joy of loving them for all those facets, not just for the few you like best.

Letting them love who you are, too.

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