Looking Past the Looking Glass

Oct 21, 2010 by

Looking Past the Looking Glass

Once, a little girl stopped in front of a mirror, to admire her decided loveliness. She looked and looked, and became mesmerized with her own image. Her golden curls fell upon her shoulders and lingered by her face. Her perfect pink lips drew into a sweet little smile as she gleefully approved of her image there. The blush on her cheeks recalled roses fair, and a tiny nose placed just so in the near middle of her face was nothing less that a fine white pearl. If all this was not enough to make a self proud indeed, there were those two round glistening orbs, each resting in a small hollow just beneath her fair soft brows, beckoning her to come closer, and closer still, as she peered into the portals to her soul. After a long moment, startled by her own stillness, she stepped back and wondered, is that really me?

Suddenly the colors and images around her reflection faded to darker and darker hues, punctuating the reflection, as the mirror itself became unclear and almost seemed to ponder the query with her. She thought, I can see every face of every person that I look upon, but the only way I can see my face is to look at a photograph, or look into a mirror. How do I know for sure that this is really me when I can’t really even look at my own face? Looking a bit closer she leaned upon the glass with her hand and at once she poured through the murky glass and out to the other side!

What happened, she wondered, and where am I? As she looked around, she noticed that everything was exactly the opposite as it was on the side she came from, and when she looked into this other side of the mirror, she was horrified at the image before her! Where were her beautiful golden curls? This hair in the mirror was thinning and grey! Her pretty lips were no longer full but frayed with small cracks and lines, and her cheeks were sunken and speckled with spots. There were many wrinkles, dark patches and drooping brows. “Who is this person?” she spoke aloud. “Surely this cannot be me!”

Frightened and confused, she was anxious to return to the side of the mirror where things were familiar, and where she knew for certain she was beautiful. She asked the mirror, “May I please return to the other side, and can you tell me, whose dreadful image is where mine should be?” And the mirror answered, “You are in the land of opposites, where you have the advantage of remembering things before they happen.”

Hearing this the child replied, “but how can that be? Are you saying they both are me? I do feel nearly the same inside, but what of my face and body? Which of these is the real me?”  “Neither, child,” the mirror answered “the real you is not visible from the outside, that is but a fading dream, thoughts and words describing what you see on the outside can mean whatever we want them to mean, but that does not make them real. The real you can only be seen with the heart, and in time, unlike the outside, the real you only becomes more and more beautiful, as you choose to be who you truly are.” “So,” said the little girl, “if this is the land of opposites, is that my face at the opposite end of my life?” “Do you feel she is less beautiful than your other face?” “Well, yes, if it is my face. I do. Her image makes me sad!” the child said. “And what of the you who is seeing both? Does she feel any less beautiful now than she did then?” The child was surprised to realize that she did not! “Touch the mirror and you may re-enter to the side from where you came; and remember always what you witnessed here today as your life unfolds.”

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
~Antoine de Saint-Exuperey

 

All too familiar themes in the stories of Alice Through The Looking Glass, Snow White, The Little Prince, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to name just a few, prompt us to consider the meaning and value of the self, but by whose definition? Each day we are told in so many ways who we are, how we compare, what is our value, our worth…and often we choose to believe these assessments are so.

Who are we, really? Are we our face, our body, our mind, our age? Are we our experiences, our education, our occupation or our salary? Are we our politics, our religion, our music or our art? Do our culinary tastes define us, or the movies we like, the games we enjoy, the instruments we play, where we live, who we know? And if we say no to any or all of these, then why do we work so hard to have others know and evaluate us by these criteria?? I propose we all know intrinsically that we are truly not defined by these things, yet maybe it has been a while since we remembered that. We are so much more than we’re given credit for, and perhaps it is no coincidence that all of these literary offerings remind us, too, that we have the answers to these questions within us, if we will only see with our hearts. <3

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”
~Carl Jung

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4 Comments

  1. Frances~

    Thank you so much for taking the time to comment here about my story regarding looking beyond the mirror to see who we truly are. I appreciate what you had to say here, and I agree with you! If we are not authentic all of the time….or, as you say “when no one is watching”, then how can we hope to engage others to know and love us, any more than we can hope to truly love ourselves? It is a challenge to be sure, but one that is well worth the effort, as I see it!

    Your remarks on patience are also very apropos. What you say here has partly inspired my latest article on waiting and the positive effects that can come with choosing to be patient while we wait.

    Thanks for reading my work and I hope you will continue to do so. I also want you to know that I welcome more of your wise and inspiring feedback!

    Adele

  2. Irene~

    I wanted you to know how much I appreciate your comments here regarding this story of self perception and acceptance. In posting your unenhanced, unaltered photo on Facebook, and by explaining in all honesty why you did so, was truly inspirational to me as I wrote these thoughts to share here. Then in an act of even greater courage you choose to change this photo to become your profile picture, acting unknowingly on behalf of all would accept themselves and have others know and accept the authentic person they are in place of the usual facade. As long as we choose to hide our true selves from others, in whatever capacity that may be, we can never really love who we are, nor can we expect others to find and know and love us in authentic ways.

    Thanks again, Irene…in my book you are a true heroine!

    Adele

  3. Irene Rhodes

    Adele my dear – I thank you so much for the dedication and have to say that this piece is beautiful in its straight-forward simplicity….I love the question that you pose here … “…..if we say no to any or all of these…then why do we work so hard to have others know and evaluate us by these criteria??” It is an important question indeed, and one to take inward.

    I am very touched that what felt like a simple movement inside, that is, to publish a ‘real’ photo of myself, has made the impact that it has on you…humbled and happy. What a lovely bond I feel with you. :0)

    @Frances – I love what you say about the patience thing…and it applies to any aspect of our behaviour that we may think of as ‘good’ – if we cannot apply patience, love, respect, etc. to those that are nearest to us in our daily lives, then all that we show to the outside world is as nothing.

  4. Frances Frederick

    I LIKE THE STORY VERY MUCH,I REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME I GOT A LOOK AT MY SUPERFICIAL SELF . I WAS VERY UGLY.I THOUGHT THINGS JUST COULD NOT GO RIGHT UNLESS I PUT MY OPINION IN,NO ONE HAD TO INVITE ME IN…WHAT I REALLY LEARNED IS, NOMATTER HOW KIND,GENEROUS,PATIENT,GIVING,LOVING,AND ALL THE OTHER STUFF WE CLAIM WE ARE… WE ARE NONE OF THESE THINGS IF WE ARE NOT THESE THINGS ALL THE TIME WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING. I THOUGHT I WAS JUST THE BEST UNTIL I HEARD THAT STILL SMALL VOICE INSIDE SAY YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY PATIENCE. OF COURSE I DID NOT AGREE. WHAT DO YOU MEAN? I HAVE PATIENCE ( i was a bus driver at the time) I SPEAK TO EVERYONE THAT GETS ON THE BUS,I AM KIND TO THEM. I RAN DOEN MY GOODY LIST. THE LITTLE VOICE SAID UNTIL YOU LEARN HOW TO BE PATIENT WITH YOUR HUSBAND NOTHING ELSE COUNTS.. SO YOU SEE YOU ARE CORRECT,IT IS ABOUT THE HEART …I HAVE CHANGED…IT IS ABOUT THE HEART AND LETTING PEOPLE KNOW THAT THEY ARE LOVED…WITHOUT THIS NOTHING THAT WE CAN SEE REALLY MATTERS…MUCH LOVE…