I find it strange that mirrors don’t come with instructions. They are, in fact, one of the most dangerously brutal objects found in our homes, harboring the potential to destroy our emotional well-being with ease. They threaten our image of ourselves, and even at times warp our perceptions. And yet, there is no warning label about their misuse.
Their addictive properties offer a vise to both the vain and the masochistic. For the naive, they readily shatter precious illusions and reflect the naked distortion of our imagined perfection. Yes, mirrors are uncompromising in their function, merciless in capacity, and indignant to their facility.
Seeking the truth through the ‘looking glass’ we stare … and lie to ourselves about our reflection, reflecting our own hypocrisy or delusion.
Mirrors reflect the present, though they foster the urge in us to reflect ‘back’ at the way we used to be. They urge us to ignore the obvious, deny the truth, and shut out the certain.
In their way, mirrors have a way of turning us against ourselves. We see only what we are, most likely what others see, but sometimes that which we barely recognize. We squint and struggle to see what we expected, what were once were. Engaging ourselves in a sick mind game of ‘chicken’ of sorts, we slowly turn our heads side to side as if to challenge the reflection, daring it to flinch. It never does.
Of course, where mirrors fail is that they merely show us what we are and not who we are or what we might yet be. Mirrors don’t turn us inside out … that we do to ourselves. In rage we lash out against our reflection and end up with our own blood on our fists, and further distortions of our fragmented psyches, falling in shards to the floor. We can blame the mirror, but in the end we are our own worst enemies. Mirrors simply add insult to injury.
In his classic Through The Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll wrote:
To the Looking-Glass world it was Alice that said,
“I’ve a sceptre in hand, I’ve a crown on my head;
Let the Looking-Glass creatures, whatever they be,
Come and dine with the Red Queen, the White Queen, and me.”
Make of that what you will, but heed my advice: the world we might hope to see when we gaze through a ‘looking glass’ is only one that is possible on this side of the mirror. So the next time you desire to take a good look at yourself … forget the mirror and consult a loved one instead. As the Beatles sang in their finale, “And in the end, the love you make is equal to the love you take”.
Go ahead and juxtapose that all you want.