Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mirror, mirror on the wall.....

Everyone has their "thing". For some it is clowns, for some people it is Styrofoam, for people like me, it is mirrors. I am fairly confident I am not the only person that is slightly freaked out by them. I find them fascinating. They have the potential to have so much power over how we feel about ourselves each and every day, yet in reality they don't even accurately reflect what we look like. Reason number a million to realize once and for all, you are more than your looks! You are so much more than what you see in the mirror every day.

If you are having real trouble remembering this, why don't you try writing some encouraging words or quotes with a dry erase board marker on the mirrors you use most every day. Words like "kind," "intelligent," "funny," "good friend," " great at 80's trivia," "patient," "good mother," "hard worker," "love myself" and "love my kids." These are the things you should focus on in the mirror each day!!

Back to my mirror freak-outs. A few years back, Greg and I went to a RadioLab that was taped live at NYU. During this particular episode they were talking about symmetry. In the lobby of the auditorium they had a mirror that accurately reflected what you looked like a "true mirror" versus what mirrors normally do, reflect reversed images back to us.

Every time you are look in a mirror you are basically seeing yourself in reverse, the exact opposite of how the world sees you. I couldn't pull myself away from the "true mirror". I noticed that everything seemed backwards. I was used to one side of my face being a bit more "feminine" looking than the other and I was used to the other eye being slightly higher. The crooked smile that will never leave me, was even crooked in the wrong direction. I guess it made sense why pictures look different than what I see in the mirror. What made me so sad, was when I realized I liked mirror Patty more than I liked photograph Patty. It was so bizarre to be reminded that the way I see myself every morning in the mirror is not the way I appear to the world each and every day. Granted, if my face was perfectly symmetrical, I guess in theory, it would make no difference. For me, this is not the case.

Yet, somehow this was Patty. This is who I was, and who I had always been.

I was begining to realize, my eyebrows aren't exactly the same, my eyes aren't exactly the same height or shape and I have more freckles on one side of my face than the other. All things I never realized until they were showing up on the wrong side of my face in that true mirror.

Ever since I saw "Return to Oz," as a young child....From that first time, seeing the young girl, Ozma, stuck in the mirror, they were scary. Dorothy finding ways to communicate with her, to them interacting and touching all via the mirror. I guess I can blame this all on "Return to Oz."

Mirrors show up in so many horror movies, ghost stories and have ranged from ways to communicate with the dead to portals to other worlds. Mirrors have been windows into people's hearts, minds and souls. They have allowed wicked witches to spy on Snow White and were a part of most of my childhood sleepovers via good ole' Bloody Mary. They lead to the fourth dimension and our own evil twin.

They hang on the wall and remain in your bathroom or purse, innocently enough, until you are really tired that one evening and stare into one just a little longer than you should. I swear my face starts to look different after I look at it in a mirror for a long time. I guess I kind of almost understand why Narcissus had trouble. I honestly try not to look at them or pay attention to them when I walk past them out in the world. I try to keep my mirror viewing to bathrooms only.

Think about it, while you aren't home, your mirrors just hang there all day. Only reflecting what is opposite to it on the wall. And while it is doing that, we have to remember it isn't even doing that accurately. I remember hearing stories of people being afraid that mirrors could tell the future, show our potential and even show us lies and what we wanted to see. They could capture our souls and break all hearts. Just hanging there on the wall, all day. Not doing anything. Not being active in any way. Just hanging in wait, waiting for someone to take a quick peak. Seeing if that person can then get pulled in, too.

The challenge grows and expands beyond the bathroom, as most surfaces of glass can double as a mirror. Walking by a store front or a picture frame, can certainly easily lend itself to a quick glance in the mirror.

I often stare at myself in the mirror, secretly hoping I see my reflection separate from reality. I am waving my hand and my reflection is sticking out its tongue.  I often stare in the mirror and try and look deep into my own eyes. Try and figure out what exactly "is in there." Try and give myself some clarity and perspective. What is important? Repeat my affirmations. Why do we worry so much about looks? Why does this mirror fascinate me, so?

I clearly am in no way unique with my fascination.

In the story of Narcissus, after he drowned in the lake,  the lake is sad over his death. The lake was sad because it realized that whenever Narcissus was admiring his own beauty, the lake was able to see its beauty reflected in the eyes of Narcissus.

"I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected."

Cheers to hoping we find ways to recognize our own beauty without the need for mirrors and here's to hoping we then find our beauty in our love for our self, our love for others and our service to each.

And that's all she wrote...

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