I have a mirror. Actually I have 2 of them, one in the bathroom and a full length one in the bedroom. They work fine. I can see myself in both of them. The picture is roughly the same in both. Neither one shows the picture of me I have inside my head. I just don’t look like that. I don’t.
My view of myself is a cobbled together affair of different times and places and wardrobes and hairstyles. The end result though is my mirror is lying to me. It is not showing who I really am, it is conspiring with the world to show a view of me that bears no relationship to the person that is trapped inside.
It starts with my age, the mirror continues to show me as a middle aged man. I am not, I am young, I am not so young that I have no experience, but not yet 30. Inside I am about 28. I can do anything, My hair is not gray. My whole life is still waiting to happen, there is so much time left, how will I fill it all. The mirror does not reflect that at all, in it I am 47 (almost 48), my hair is almost white. My life is passing by so quickly and my best efforts to slow it down are useless. Who is this man in the mirror, who is this old person?
It continues with my weight. I see it in the mirror, but in my head, it is not so, I am thin – well thinner at least. I am not this heavy, old man that my mirror shows me. I can touch my toes, heck, I can see my toes. My mirror does not reflect back the leaner, more fit man in my head. It shows a man who has paid too little attention to exercise and far too much time to his plate.
I make jokes about my weight and my age, but in reality it is painful to see myself. I am not happy with the mirror, this reflection of what all of you see. I am not him, I want to shout to everyone wherever I go. What you see is false, it is a facade, it is not me, not the real me. Oh please, can you see past this exterior to the person on the inside?
The problem is, even in my behaviour I have created a false mirror. I wear a mask, it is one of my own choosing. It is not the mask that exists in the mirror, but it is a mask nonetheless. A part of it exists because of the mirror. I see this false person in the mirror and I feel the need to protect myself from others. I have developed a habit of hiding my true feelings. I have heard from people that I am intimidating, that I am gruff, and harsh. That is not how I feel inside. Inside I am a marshmallow, all soft and squishy. I am emotional and I hurt for people who hurt. The mirror doesn’t show that either, it shows a man who doesn’t much care what you feel, but it just isn’t so.
My mirror is lying to me and to the world, it shows a false picture of who I really am, maybe they all do, maybe we are all sitting inside our heads searching for a way out. Searching for a place where we can really be seen by others. Really be seen for who we are, for all our faults and all our talents.
My mask is lying too. It shows a facade, a construct of who I think you should see. Churches are supposed to be places where we can be freed of the obligations of who we look like and think like and just be ourselves, but we all bring our mirrors and masks with us. We all still hide who we are, behind the chubby, old, gruff face. Can we blame others for only seeing that, at least at first?
I want to get rid of my mirror and my mask, but the truth is, I feel safer with it in place. I long for a place, if not for me, for my children, where there are no more mirrors, where we can all be exactly who we are inside. Where we can be liked or loathed for who we actually are, not just the outward presentation of who we are.
How does one even start a journey like that? I have no idea, I truly am making up things as I go along. I am doing my best in a confusing world. Some days it just feels like my best is not good enough and so I put on my mask, and I look in my mirror, and I just…carry on.