Mirror in the Dark

I look at my reflection in the mirror. I see a young man, but not all that young anymore. I see the scars I’ve earned over the years, in my boyish youth. One in the center of my forehead, where a bright-eyed child I’ve since forgotten ran in circles in his family’s old living room. Before the days of rounded corners, a decidedly squared one made its mark on this boy- clearly visible even after the chap had long since packed up and ventured on. I see the scars of my adult life clearly there under my eyes. The pain of waking, stressing, cajoling, and finally earning so I could return to my comfortable home, comfortable bed, and lay awake at night, mind restless at the opportunities missed while I toiled my youth away for comfort. I found myself sucked into the slow trappings of the concrete jungle, far more dangerous than any quicksand encountered in its natural counterpart. Unlike the sharp pain of cuts in youth, these scars formed around festering wounds, continually picked at over years. I have left that gentleman behind as well, the adulthood he represented being a necessary casualty (unfortunate? A stretch.) to escape the pit he and I found ourselves in. I can’t help but wonder what others see. Not me, no not when they look at me. The good Lord has been kind enough to minimize that concern- its sharpness once felt, whittled down from both inside and out over years of interaction with others, and encounters with myself. I wonder what they see when they look at themselves in the mirror. I’ve never understood the fear of mirrors, many claiming to see spirits and such- horrible things lurking on the other side of the reflective surface. Some will not even venture a glance at a mirror in a darkened room. I turn off the lights, and stare intently at the mirror. Nothing. No ghosts, no blood, not even a sudden inexplicable flash of brightness. At least that would be something, but alas- nothing. Am I without the same soul these tortured few possess? Did the young man I once was inadvertently make off with that part of me as he whistled off in the night sometime between kindergarten and high school? As my eyes adjust, vaguely I see what I have always seen, my reflection, now darkened. Then, as I begin to closely examine an ingrown hair that has formed as a consequence of the beard I have begun to grow, my imagination erupts. I see reflections of all these paths taken, and abandoned. I also see the many paths not taken, and the destinations unknown. With the eyes of a child, I imagine each taking me on some magical adventure, although the remaining logical portion of my mind reassures me that these paths would have probably brought me to a similar place. Different scars perhaps, but still standing here at 25, looking myself in the mirror and wondering much the same things. It saddens me a bit, because I know on some level the grown-up logic I have gained through years of rational study, designed to protect me and aid in my survival, betray me. I know that there have been narrow paths I have skipped, which would have led me far from this bathroom mirror today. Adventures that would cause me to awake in the night, screaming at the thought of the relative nightmare I am living now. This thought is quickly followed by a shudder at the fact that I rather enjoy my life, and do not consider myself to be at any great loss. That is when I realize what they see, and what I have seen in my own way this entire time. Like many, I have been tricked into accepting this ache in the pit of my soul as the simple heartburn of a spicy meal, or the general discomfort we all feel while we fall asleep: perfectly natural, with no knowable cause, but a few methods and medications designed to dull our senses in order to help us make it through. We all have a separation between who we are, and who we saw ourselves becoming as children. I see my separation primarily through imagination and writing, some see it at the bottom of a bottle of whisky, others in the retelling of a video game they have finally beaten. Still others cannot help but see it in their reflection, with the nuances of the soul most clearly visible in the dark. Their minds eye manifests the demons that mind this gap between the person staring into the mirror, and their actualized self. They scream in the night. It is the same scream we all make at one time or another, with the voice that suits us best, and in a language all our own. If this does not ring true with you, perhaps you should ask yourself why.

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~ by songoflove on March 31, 2009.

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