When you look in a mirror what do you see? Is it a functional task, performing a visual checklist, before you step out to face what the day ahead brings. Hair, check. Clothes, check. Overall appearance? Meh, acceptable, you’ll do, I’m late for the train, no time to think too hard about this. Then it’s off without another thought until you partake of the same perfunctory ritual again, 24 hours later.
Or is it a more drawn out process? You preen and pout, basking in what faces you. A selfie perhaps, for you like what you see. And why not for you’ve worked hard to cultivate this image of perfection. You smile as you know you’ll turn heads wherever you go today. Image is everything and you are enraptured by yours. You stare at the centre of your universe and it smirks back at you.
Or do you cringe and shy away from the face and body looking back at you? You don’t like what you see, it’s a visage which fills you with guilt, shame and despair. Oh, to be anywhere else, to be anyone else. You hate what you have become, what you are. The mind plays tricks but the mirror never lies. You are an embarrassment, a joke, and the whole world knows it. They only have to look.
Self can be an idol or an enemy. It flatters, it taunts, it throws you this way then that on a whim. We fixate, we obsess, shackled to the altar of me, me, me. It is a prison of the soul, the darkest, deepest of dungeons from which there is little hope of escape. It’s a life sentence with no chance of parole. You are stuck with one another. We are what we eat, drink, intake or inject into our bodies. We are consumed by what we consume.
Yet what’s that lying at your feet? So small and seemingly insignificant. You stoop down to pick it up. A sharp edged stone which nestles neatly in the palm of your hand. A stone is a stone. It holds no secrets or hidden depths. You watch as you form a fist around it. An idea takes root in your mind. You blush at even daring to think such a radical thought. Seven years bad luck, isn’t that what they say?
Before you realise what you’re doing, you throw your arm back and hurl it at the mirror, the stone striking its surface and sending a thousand shards shattering in all directions. You stand at the centre of the carnage, unscathed, without a scratch or cut. You look beyond the damaged mirror and the scales finally fall away to reveal the truth which was there all belong. The truth behind the mirror.
Shards. They cut the self away without mercy or regrets. Multiple edges carving out a new message, one of hope and love. The self is dead, long live the self. Selflessness, that is. For you look into the eyes of the family and friends behind the facade. You look into their eyes and see your true self, the person you were created to be before the world perverted and distorted you beyond recognition. You see the original prototype, box fresh and flawless.
It is then you can breathe out, exhale and experience freedom in its purest form. You are free at last from the yoke which has hung around your neck for so long. Free to live a life uninhibited by the face in the mirror. All you have to do is pick up that stone at your feet and start living the rest of your life. Death can be a beginning, a purification, a cleansing ritual like no other. Kill the self.
How do you see when you look in the mirror?