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Friday, October 5, 2012

"Mirror"

When I was little, I thought about Narcissus and tried to look at my reflection in the river.  For those of you who might wonder why a little kid is thinking about Narcissus, you can see last week’s post about “book” which only touched on the edges of my parents’ eclectic library.  Dad liked Greek myths for the action.  Admittedly, Narcissus had very little action since he just looked at himself in a pool of water until he died, but the story interested me because I doubted the premise.  I didn’t think a pool of water would reflect like a mirror, and the endlessly rippling water of my river proved me right.  I tried looking in a pond, but that didn’t work any better.  I made a pool of water by diverting some river water and waiting for the mud to settle.  A water bug crawled across my murky, distorted reflection.

Okay, I was a very bored child, but I had endless sources of activities in the woods, and nobody was watching me looking at my reflection.  Besides, river, pond, and puddle making only took a couple hours.  I had the rest of the day to scour the woods for something else to reflect my image.  Here’s the thing – there isn’t a natural mirror except other people’s eyes, and that’s a tiny reflection.  Narcissism isn’t possible without chemistry and a furnace, and my interest in Narcissus just wasn’t strong enough for me to learn how to melt glass, mine silver, or whatever else it would take to make a mirror.

Besides, even if I could’ve made a mirror, a mirror doesn’t really show us as we appear to others.  Our view of ourselves is necessarily skewed by what we focus on in the mirror or by how we see ourselves reflected in the faces of other people.  I have been hit on when I looked my absolute worst.  I haven’t been hit on when I’ve looked my absolute best.  Okay, I’m getting too old to be hit on much at all anymore, but I remember such things, and the whole dynamic is terribly confusing, made more confusing by other people’s comments and a gigantic cosmetic/fashion industry designed to make us all feel insecure.

When I was in college, a friend remarked that I have big ears.  Huh?  Since we were studying anatomy, I had reference to know how big ears are supposed to be, and mine were exactly average in proportion to my head.  My friend is a significantly smaller person, with smaller ears to go with her smaller head – but that has very little bearing on why she’d remark on my ears in the first place.  Maybe she felt insecure about her own ears?  Maybe she had earlobe envy?  Maybe she thought I needed knocked down a peg to lift herself up?  Whatever her reasons, my ears had nothing to do with her issues, and if I didn’t have proof that my ears were normal I might’ve developed insecurities about them.  Pick a body part and multiply by a million tactless comments or stray looks or defective mirrors.

Remember, there isn’t a natural mirror.  I don’t think we’re supposed to spend our lives looking at ourselves and picking apart our flaws or falling in love with our faces like Narcissus.  The wicked queen in Sleeping Beauty wasn’t beautiful inside and made herself miserable waiting for her beauty to be usurped by someone younger.  Let’s face it.  We all get old and die.  There’s always someone younger and more beautiful.  The best we can do is make sure we put laugh lines on our faces instead of frowns.

18 comments:

  1. Linda through the looking glass gets all wet after falling inna river. :o)

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  2. Like your little illustration. The world needs more laugh lines!

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  3. What a GREAT take on the IF topic of the week!

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  4. Now we have photo booth on the computer, which I do everything to avoid. A friend of mine once told me she hit the photo booth by accident and scared herself one morning. She put a piece of tape on the camera to make sure it never happened again!

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  5. Thanks everybody! I think I'd have to cover the camera on the computer too, Patti. Who comes up with these insane ideas?!

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  6. For one, I'm glad you didn't look at your river reflection until you died. Nice illustration!

    I looked at myself this week and saw my mom. It wasn't too bad... after the initial shock.

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  7. The laughter lines got me Linda and luckily I have so far avoided falling in rivers ;0) Great take on IF this week.
    Have a great weekend,
    Jane x

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  8. I think I've seen my mom in the mirror once in a while too, but since I ran away screaming it's hard to say for sure. Thanks for the comments!

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  9. My mirror seems to be weighing down my face these days. You always have a great story to pull out of your pocket for IF. I've decided to just sit by the water or walk along beside it instead of starring. I'm older and wiser now. Except for all those darn mirrors...

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  10. Hmmm...I think I have a few issues around mirrors! :) I guess, it will be another thing to work through one of these days. I'll have to add it to the 1,000,000 things I need to work on! LOL! Great post as usual! Love your insight!

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  11. When I was a kid in Northeast Philadelphia, every street name in my neighborhood began with "N". One block over from us was a street called "Narcissus". I never knew what that meant, but everyone who lived there was really stuck up!

    Lovely illustration, Sorry for the rambling.

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  12. May I join your laughing lines club?
    I've enjoyed your post on mirrors and Narcissus.
    Your illustration is cute and soft.

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  13. It didn't occur to me that my mirror is weighing down my face. One more excellent reason to stay away from those things! Thanks for the comments everybody!

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  14. Hello Linda! Well you just have the greatest stories! And I love how you make them both entertaining and work that moral in at the end. And don't you just love it whenyou get 'hit' on when you don't expect it. Me? I always look back over my shoulder to see who they are really looking at - or I figurethey must be desparate (which they are) or need a new pair of spectacles :) Full moons are always a good time :) Narcissus? Really very interesting - you need a salt water pool to look in and the light to be at just the right angle - salt in water means that a colloids will separate and fall to the bottom - freseh water is always dirty - that's cause people wash their underwear in it. :)

    Hope you are well :) :)

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  15. LOL And here I thought you were telling me true science facts Andrew! Well, maybe they are true science facts, but I hope nobody's washing their underwear in my river!

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  16. Wonderful post, Linda! I especially liked your story about being hit on (or not). I can totally relate...it's all so dang confusing. I find that I'm starting to avoid mirrors.
    Recently, a friend who I rarely see in my favorite coffee shop/bookstore, greeted me with, "You still look so YOUNG!" It didn't really feel like a compliment at the time, and I realized much, much later that she was really making a comment about herself... But just that morning, my own mirror had told me in NO uncertain terms that I was old, a has-been (or never was) and looking way, way too much like my mother.
    Who to believe...?

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  17. This looking like Mom thing just has to stop! At least that's what I tell my reflection sometimes :) I don't think we should believe our mirrors Susan. They're obviously verbally abusive!

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