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Mirror Mirror On the Wall

I’ve returned from a grand vacation with a new perspective on a variety of things: work, crowds, cabbage, tea, humor, Dylan, bisque, Crocks, gratitude, mirrors …

On this trip, I found mirrors to be as invasive as Spanish moss. I don’t think I’d ever noticed how there are mirrors stuck around just about everywhere. I live in a nearly mirror-free environment. There are two in the RV. They’re both in the bathroom. Well, technically, the closet doors in the bedroom are mirrored, but since I’ve plastered the windows with blackout paper to make it easier to sleep during the day, it’s always dark, which renders those mirrors pretty useless.

I see mirrors as having two primary purposes.

1 – I look in the mirror when I get up to remind myself that I’m me and not the entirely other person I was in my dream moments earlier. (Is it just me, or do you also sometimes dream you’re someone else altogether?)

2 – As an occasional fleeting reminder that a hairbrush might help.

I particularly like this mirror because I can mostly just see myself from my top chin up (unless I step back and then I can’t see much at all). Straight on, from the chin up – that I’m used to.  It may be a transposed reflection, but it’s a familiar one. There’s a second mirror on the medicine cabinet over the toilet. Odd placement. I never look at that one because I always have my back turned.

But while traveling, I found not just high medicine cabinet mirrors, but whole bathrooms full of mirrors, providing surround vision mirrors for that complete 3-D look.

There were rooms with entire walls of mirrors; mirrors inside the closet doors; mirrors behind the bed; mirrors beside the TV; mirrors over the desk; mirrors all over the lobbies and lounges and restaurants. Why is that, I wonder? I find all those mirrors to be disconcerting and distracting.

For example, during dinner, right in the middle of a great conversation, I would look up and see myself listening, which of course would cause me to stop listening, and lead me to ponder the fact that my face is a little lopsided or try to subtly see if I had food in my teeth.

When the Wicked Stepmother said: Mirror, mirror on the wall, she had just one mirror in mind. And in my mind, one is enough (although I’m glad mine is mute). Unlike Narcissus, I’m not enchanted by the beauty of my reflection. The more left to the imagination, the better! For example, I imagine myself with nice straight posture, an unbent nose, youthful skin, only one chin and much smaller thighs.

I’ve given up the looking glass; quicksilver has no sense of tact. ~ James Goldman

In addition to mirrors, the vacationing cousin in crime is the camera. I hate to have my picture taken. For generations, the women in my family have hated picture opps. We’ve found a work around for this problem by being the one who holds the camera whenever possible. We do the picture-taking instead of being shot. And when I say being shot, that’s just how we look when we pose for a picture. We all paste on that awkward frozen smile that makes us look like someone dropped an ice-cube down our backs and then said Say Cheese!

Mirrors and photos leave so little to the imagination, but more than that, they make me self-conscious and self-focused. Part of my challenge on this trip came from a quote I read by G. K. Chesterton:

The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.

I found that it wasn’t the weather or the people or the itinerary that, at times, kept me from being a traveler and moved me into the realm of tourist. It was all those mirrors. It was my literal and the figurative focus on me that occasionally kept me from seeing the wonder of the moment.

And there was plenty of wonder all around me, every day. There still is, it just takes a little keener eye. Coming home, being back in my familiar environment in my top-secret job, there’s so much to see when my eyes aren’t on me.

If you have a good friend, you don’t need a mirror. ~Bente Borsum

30 thoughts on “Mirror Mirror On the Wall

  1. Glad you had a great vacation! We didn’t visit your sister, but went to Seattle & in ’06 drove to Alaska & took 6 months to get there & back. Marvelous! Look forward to reading about your trip. Glad you took a break from your top secret position, you really do need to, now for another reason. Glad you finally told me how to stop eating at night. I’ve just been reading several blogs, now I find out I’ve got to write one too! Lynn & Tom

    • Lynn –
      I’m sure my sister would have been more than glad to meet you! 😀
      What a wonderful trip you had! This was my 3rd time to Alaska – but always by ship – never in a car. That must have been quite a journey!
      You could tell us all about it on your NEW BLOG!

  2. Yeah you’re back. Where’s the book?

    Great thoughts Chris!

    This reminds me of a game my folks, sister, her husband and I played a long time ago. It was a blast. One where a question is asked and each write a secret response which is then read our loud and you have to guess who wrote it.
    ? Was “how many times a day do you look in the mirror?”
    I was thinking “heck I barely remember doing so, I said 3″

    My sisters was I think 21. I don’t remember the others. It was just something I never gave thought to. Then I had to laugh because that was obvious considering how frightened I was when I did look because I couldn’t believe my hair or clothes looked the way they did. It was really funny. Then I met someone that looked in the mirror all the time and I thought Geesh ” how vain” but they always looked good. Looks aren’t everything but I think I need a balance. then there are times I do look and say ” who cares”

    Oh dear….

    Glad you’re back !

    • Cathy –
      Now that’s an interesting addition to Chris’s story. 😉
      I remember someone at church saying that you should get yourself all fixed up first thing every morning so that you can forget about yourself the rest of the day.
      If it only worked that way…

  3. Debbie– I love this. Your humor and insight are so welcome. One can never tire of your wit! The miner who took your new gravatar shot could barely work a digital camera, but he got a good picture! We had such a wonderful time, but the best part is that ‘home again’ feeling when we walked into the RV! I’m so encouraged that you’re writing once more. Looking forward to your capturing more dragonflies! Plenty of those here…

    • Heidi –
      I’d forgotten (already) who took that picture!
      When it’s great to go and great to be back – that seems pretty terrific to me.
      And yes, I know, you love your kitchen! 😉

  4. OH SO FABULOUS (i’m soooo surprised). This reminds me of Debby’s post of “at your age”. Well, sort of. Mirrors are good for teeth checks and hair combing … i’m with ya!

    I’m so glad you were able to see what you saw: What seemed beautiful and
    important to you. I know you had many photo ops where you were. xx MEL

    I also know what you mean by feeling SHOT when someone is “shooting” a picture of you.

    What is it that American Indians say … about losing your soul in the looking glass, or in pictures ???

  5. Welcome back. You have such a gift for writing, you need to write more…just not about your top secret job. LOL.

    You must have ideas flitting around like dragonflies. Please catch more of them and send them out into the blogosphere where we can admire the creativity, humor, movement and colors you produce.



    • Hey there Susan!
      Wow – if that wasn’t the nicest thing to say (and you said it so poetically)!
      I’m not a writer – just a talker who writes to keep from eating all night.
      But thank you for your kind words!
      I was kind of running out of things to say about my top secret job anyway… 😉

  6. Thanks for the post and the everso wonderful perspective. Glad you had a chance to get away and have new eyes and a new voice. Love you.

    • Karla –
      Now yours is a face I miss!
      The timing of the trip was perfect. It was great to go and it’s great to be home.
      Who could ask for anything more? 😀
      Love to you, too!

  7. Love you and so glad you are back . . .and in a less mirror-ful place! You make me laugh so hard . .at all of this. I used to dream I was skinny when I was pregnant. haha! Didn’t even have to go look at the mirror to figure out I wasn’t that person when I woke up! I”m all for less looking at myself and more looking up and around. God bless you!

    • Debbie –
      My dreams are so weird. Sometimes full of people I know (have known) but sometimes full of people I make up and I’m someone else entirely – all different ages and stages of life.
      Probably a good thing that I got rid of my Abnormal Psych text book years ago. I might scare myself!
      You always get the heart behind my humor. Thank you, kind friend!

  8. Mirrors reveal truth don’t they Debbie? It’s funny being an identical twin because so many others say we look so alike but when I look at her I’ve tried imagining that I’m looking at me but I can’t see it. Is that really what I look like I’ve asked myself? Not in a negative way just like saying “really?” It messes with the mind. 🙂
    Second thought, I’ve always been the one to take most of the pictures and I’d ask someone else to take some pictures of me doing whatever because I didn’t want my kids to regret not having some pictures of me when I’m gone. Regardless of what I looked like it was who I was and how I am today. Maybe the picture will look just how they remembered me but probably not how I really saw myself. LOL

    Fun topic Debbie, glad you are back.
    Love, Chris

    • Hello Chris!
      What an fascinating observation.
      I can see how strange it would be for you.
      The longer I’ve know you and Cathy, the less alike you’ve look!
      I do try to make an occasional appearance in photos just so folks don’t forget I went along. 😉

    • Vicky –
      I look at myself as little as possible – which probably goes a long way toward explaining a lot of things! 😉
      I’m starting to feel inappropriately important now that my job and location are a secret!

  9. Oh, I SO Love everything in this post, Debbie–you make me laugh, even as you point out, or remind me of, truths. I had heard that the excess of mirrors is a decorating trick–an illusion of greater space, depth, or something. Since I don’t like deception of any kind (pen names are okay), the abundance of mirrors would be, at the least, “disconcerting”–and often dizzying, for me. Glad you had a great vaca–it’s more than wonderful to have you back! God bless you Big–love, sis Caddo Delight (who does not have an affinity for mirrors, though some are very beautiful as art pieces–and it occurs to me that they reflect light well, increasing the sense of it, which works well in my small abode…ramble ramble)

  10. Mirrors of course make small places look LARGER (ie cabins on ships)…young minded people look more than the age in their mind, children laugh at silly faces, and grooming much easier, a well placed mirror is my friend as is low light when looking at my reflection. As to cameras, I totally agree….. no picture taken of me, please…..BUT, a camera is seldom in my hand :0) I would miss too much, save too little, but remember more, if only I could.

    • Debby – A mirror fast – how fascinating! Now if we would just add a month long scales fast to it, just think how good we all would feel about ourselves! 😀

    • Penny –
      You guys are funny!
      My not top secret vacation (I’m be telling some stories about some of this in the days ahead) involved driving to Tucson to visit my Sis, flying to Seattle, sailing away on a 14 day cruise to Alaska, and then all of the above in reverse. 😉

  11. Good Morning
    Next time you and the ‘Girls’ line up for a picture and you see the fakey smiles plastered on their faces
    Tell them to say: “who cut the cheese?”
    Makes everyone REALLY smile or you get a great puzzled-look picture
    God Bless

  12. How Wonderful to see you are back on line. Made my Day. Mirrors are not good. Your one will show to you your lovely smile.
    The mirror in our RV is on the closet door and has a wood strip across the middle so when I look I have a top half and botton half but the wooden strip is in the wrong place as it still shows my fat tummy. Also my teeth are not good.
    Hope to be in a secret job in November.

    • Hello Linley!
      How fun to hear from you!
      You have to remember that I have met you so I feel compelled to contradict your mirror observation: I thought both your tummy and your teeth were just right! That’s the thing about mirrors now, isn’t it? They don’t always show us what others see. 😀
      Hope our paths cross once again in some secret location in November!

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