Saturday, April 2, 2011


Mirrors make me.

And mirrors break me.
Shards of shiny glass, reflection pond, polished metal, ornately framed, it’s of no import.

As you read this and I play the role of storyteller, a new looking glass rises from the mercury I wade through. I haven’t seen one like it before and, momentarily its existence stumps me. Only momentarily, for a mirror is a mirror and here, now, another lesson awaits.

Allow me to step aside for a while before we peer into this mirror together. You need a little back story, but only a little. Your patience will be rewarded.

Have you tried this? Position two mirrors facing each other and stand between them. Magically you see yourself reflected into what feels like infinity. It’s not magic, of course, it’s science, but it feels as if sorcery could be at work, playing with your perceptions- for a few thumping beats of your heart you are drawn into another space and time. And when the dog barks or someone calls out or a door slams...the spell is broken.

Here’s another one: stare into a mirror, into your eyes reflected back at you. Really stare. Concentrate, focus, block out peripheral images. Look into your eyes...except it’s not you over there, is it? The real you is who others see, the one you see in photographs. But it feels like you and if you stare long enough, you begin to see your soul. The instant you recognise the essence of a presence, you shiver. If it works for you, it is magic; science cannot reveal essence. When the dog barks, etc, you are relieved to have the spell broken. It’s downright scary.

Except, it isn't your soul. It’s the soul of a reflection. Now that can lead to nightmares.

Back to back story. I have dark eyes. Hard to read, people tell me. Not that I believe you read someone’s eyes, that all emotion is on display there- that’s achieved in minute facial expressions. A crinkle at the corner of an eye could be amusement. Slight tightening of lips could be disagreement. An eyebrow lifted just a tick could be get the picture. Eyes are not crystal balls. You disagree? You might have a point and I might be in denial.

You see, I looked into my dark eyes, apparently so hard to read, and recognised that essence I mentioned earlier. Except, something moved in those eyes...and it wasn’t me. When my reflection blinked, and I know I did not, I was utterly spooked.

Couldn't look in the mirror for some while.

I am not one to wimp out long, however, and thus I tried the two mirror trick; safer I thought (well, I did say I was spooked). All gods in all heavens, the sixth reflection turned her head. I don’t know if six has significance, don’t care- she moved. If I was spooked before, imagine what that engendered.

My fascination with mirrors began then. I would see one and shy away. Always made sure I knew where the mirrors were in a new place in order to avoid them. A strange situation. A friend avoids mirrors because she doesn’t like herself; I avoided them because I do like myself...and wanted to keep me intact.

There really is no avoiding your reflection, however. Look into a rain puddle when retrieving something dropped. Windows are wonderful mirrors, did you know that? The silvery side of metallic wrapping, while distorted, can surprise you. And, honestly, it’s not long before you take the risk of a real mirror anyway...after perhaps the second poke of a mascara wand. Ego will force you. And so will self-worth.

And thus I stared one day at my reflection...and everything changed.

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