I keep having conversations, with friends and strangers, that unexpectedly mirror back parts of my own story I wasn’t quite aware of, or able to articulate. I know this is not unusual, but it’s gotten me thinking deeper and deeper about what “true sight” actually is.
So today’s burning question is:
What if people were true mirrors?
What if a man looked at a woman, and saw himself – or at least those parts of himself he would never imagine trusting or acknowledging in the light of day?
What if a white woman looked at a black man, and saw herself – or at least those parts of herself she would never share or seek to encounter on the street?
What if a ballet dancer looked at a girl in a wheelchair, and saw herself – or at least those parts of herself that give her the courage to face injury with every practice and performance?
What if a beautiful woman looked at another beautiful woman, and saw herself – or at least those parts of herself that she doubts, fears, and fights?
What a teacher looked at a child, and saw himself – or at least those parts of himself that ache for love, acceptance, total, uncompromising support?
What if a child looked at another child, and saw herself – or at least those parts of herself that are pure and confused and exuberant?
I could go on and on…
I’m not encouraging a kind of solipsism – that only “myself” exists. Not at all. Rather, I’m trying to understand how and why people react to each other the way they do. How and why we see each other truthfully – or are thoughtless and painfully dismissive toward each other.
Sometimes, two people meet, and their mirrors are perfectly attuned. Then there is that wonderful joy of Yes! Exactly! You get it too!
Other times, two people meet, and their mirrors are only attuned to the jagged edges. Then there is misunderstanding, competition, hostility, or toxicity. Your brokenness presses on my brokenness. Your chipped edge cuts into my raw flesh.
I’m not sure which is the more profound teacher. Of course, it is miraculous when two souls connect with true sight. Electric.
But there can be a hard-won joy in encountering a negative reaction in another person. Rather than reacting back, try following the thread of their reaction back into yourself. Then you might find where the barbed end lies. Usually, it is in our own past experiences, our own, less-than-loving inner voices.
I wish I always followed my own good advice, but I’m trying.
And I’m trying, when I look in an actual mirror, to see with the eyes of a “loving other” – as I try to grow new and loving eyes of my own.