If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

17 September 2006


We are all mirrors to each other. And here – without the buffer of a lifetime of relationships to rely on or perfect language smoothing over the harshness - this reality is more glaringly obvious.

Every time we interact with someone, we are holding up a mirror. It is how WE have chosen to see the other person. And the reflection we give back in turn becomes an almost indelible part of how she views herself.

It’s in our actions, in our eyes, in our words. Do we purposely speak too fast for her to follow? Are we dismissive and derisive? Do we smile genuinely, or avoid eye contact as we offer a backhanded compliment? Do we delight in their struggles, their imperfect moments (because we feel better by comparison), or are we encouraging, truly complimentary, kind… calling attention only to the other's best assets?

There are people in each of our lives – oxymoronic “nemesis friends” - who are those horrible contorted funhouse mirrors. While it seems like a joke, they reflect back at us, by their actions and attitudes, magnified versions of our weak spots. Shining unflattering, harsh lights on the less-polished parts of ourselves, things we might wish we could change. They delight in capturing and magnifying moments of imperfection.

And then there are those who, instead, show me a reflection of my very best self. The person I strive to be, the one I am in my very best moments. Those mirrors minimize the negative, with the angle and lighting ‘just so’ accentuating our positive qualities. Encouraging us to see the beauty that they see, glazing over the less-attractive parts. They are the people whose eyes see into our souls, and reflect goodness back at us in a hazy, soft light.

Yes, we are all mirrors.
And it is ours to choose which mirrors we surround ourselves with: which ones we place far out of reach and those in which we are able to catch reassuring daily glimpses of ourselves.

I am immeasurably thankful to have a handful of mirrors in my life who make me feel witty, brave, kind, vulnerable in only good ways, beautiful, generous, sexy, capable, charming. Who believe in the person that sometimes I am unable to see. It is those mirrors I look to when I am uncertain. They encourage me. Show me the possibilities. And when I look to them, I can believe.

“We don't see one another often, but it doesn't negate the fact that my heartbeat matches yours, and failing that, plays cymbal to your fierce and wonderful bass.”

“I just can’t imagine there’s much that would stop you for very long.”

I am awed by the power of those casual words, coming from distant friends. Even from far away, their reflections inspire me. And I stand straighter and stronger, able to confront the darkness. I am fiercer and more wonderful, because that it is how they reflect me to myself.

Choose your mirrors wisely. Your true reflection depends on it.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh wow. I don't even know what to say, but this is so true. I wish I could write even half as good as you do.

- Annika

6:51 PM  
Anonymous fieldsalad said...

nobody knows our shortcomings better than ourselves. life's too short to hang with anyone who thinks we're less than fabulous!

8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How beautifully written. Recently, I have struggled with having distanced myself from a "friend" who always makes me feel badly when I'm around her. Your words help me to realize that protecting my heart and mind from the beating that accompanied every conversation is not a bad thing. How amazing, too, that one evening spent in your company after ten+ years made me feel better about myself than I had in a very long time. Thanks so much for your lovely reflection.

2:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are one of my favorite mirrors.

In fact the mirror that you gave me when you moved to Italy has a quote printed on it now. it says,
"I see us in the mirror going by, Look at my happy face, see what you do for me."

I am going to put it in my baby's nursery because it reminds me of you and instills confidence in me whenever I see it. I hope it will do the same for my baby one day.


3:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I learned about "mirroring" from Shakti Gawain. She is kind of an "out there" woman and author of books but made sense to me many years ago.
Just remember, some mirrors are there for a reason. They remind us of who we do not want to be and where we do not want to go with our lives. Don't shun them entirely but ALWAYS surround yourself with mirrors that reflect who you are and where you want to go.

4:43 AM  
Blogger I'm Just a Girl said...

Your words remind me of a few of my recent posts. Self-reflection is one of the hardest tasks we have, if we choose to risk it. It doesn't matter where you live, you can't escape yourself. You were brave enough to venture into a whole new world, and I've never left...and yet we share the same circumstance. I wish I could "see" you more. And I hope when we spend time together next that you see me as a reflection of how despite long distance, two people can still pick up right where they left off.

3:31 AM  

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