Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

If you’ve ever unexpectedly come face-to-face with a mirror, you know how uncomfortable that can be. This is true physically. You might realize that you did need to run a brush through your hair and dab on some lipstick. But it is also true emotionally. 

Maybe you considered yourself  witty, but  when someone else’s sarcasm startles you, you recognize that you were actually being cruel. Perhaps you dismissed your relaxed attitude as “being chilled” but when you don’t get the paperwork you desperately need by a certain time, you realize that you were, in reality, irresponsible. 

I faced a mirror last evening. I was listening to a podcast that I favor. The host tends to introduce topics that interest me and he usually has two or three guests experts. While I’ve heard a number of his podcasts, this time I recognized a pattern. This particular host expects his guests to validate his views. When they disagree with him or challenge some of his beliefs, he talks over them, puts words in their mouths, and ignores inconvenient facts they raise. I don’t remember ever hearing him end a show with a different frame of mind than he started it. 

Mirror, mirror on the wall? I, too, hold strong opinions. I try to form them based on listening to many sides of an issue, but I don’t easily change my mind once I have come to a conclusion. I struggle to  focus single mindedly on hearing someone articulate a different view without planning my rebuttal as they speak. I imagine that I, too, latch on to the easily dismissed part of an opposing argument while paying less heed to a more firmly rooted objection.

Mirrors sometimes show us that our self-image is not identical to reality. In a murky world, mirrors can be valuable indeed. 

Did you know that the Hebrew word for prayer reflects
how it serves us as a mirror?

Explore 29 Hebrew words and become familiar
with the Hebrew alphabet.
Both books on sale this week.

22 thoughts on “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall”

  1. Ah, the only reason I look into the mirror is to make it feel uncomfortable! Don’t have much hair, don’t have any use for lipstick and I’m not going to shave until the bureaucrats “let my people go”!

    Until then I have many books to read, I have the telephone, I have the internut and I have been Postalizing” my friends/neighbors/acquaintances with home-made postcards. So…with plenty of input my perspectives over time evolve. Mirrors? We don’t need no stinking mirrors!

    Take care, Gordy.

  2. Thank you. I always find something to reflect on when reading your columns. In the last few months I decided to listen to, rather than bristle to, a son-in-law’s viewpoints. We have a better relationship because of it and found we are more similar than we thought.

    Also, I’m not sure how or if this poem applies to the current topic, but I love it and thought you might too:
    “If I make the lashes dark
    And the eyes more bright
    And the lips more scarlet,
    Or ask if all be right
    From mirror after mirror,
    No vanity’s displayed:
    I’m looking for the face I had
    Before the world was made.”
    –from A Woman Young and Old, by William Butler Yeats

    1. Wow! I’m so glad that you were able to improve an important relationship. That showed an admirable ability to control yourself. I admit to not being a student of Yeats poetry – I’m not sure what he’s saying.

  3. As we age we tend to be set in our ways. We need to keep our ” Patent Office” open and listen more than we talk. I found over the years you can never stop learning and growing. The year 2020 was certainly a time for reflection as we saw the best and worst in people. Thank you for a great article!

    1. Matthew, I’m sure you know of the Patent Office director who (I think early in the 20th century) said there was no more to invent. How sad to choose to atrophy rather than to be open to different ideas – even when they must be rejected.

  4. Powerful. A reality check that is urgently needed by everyone in this times of instant gratification. Wow

    1. James, because we now curate what we read and see, we do end up easily living in an echo chamber.

  5. Definitively self-reflection we should strive to incorporate into our give and take with others. But with a cautionary tale that we have two embedded & severely divided camps and one will sure not subscribe to this healthy communication technique perhaps because their ulterior motive is to vanquish their opposition rather than engage with them. The mirror will simply be crushed under a sharp heel.

    1. Kristin, you are describing a real phenomenon that has to be fought. But, there is a danger of falling into the same evil. The line between forceful response and losing yourself is a thin one.

  6. Mrs Lapin, Thank you.
    You prompted recall.
    Looking into a Mirror (glass) “Forgetting the manner of man one should be.” This as one who hears but does not do what is in text commonly called the Bible.
    Best now chk my hat size too. This as not just knowing something. Can’t get fatheaded! Yes I can! Better not!

    1. Al, a children’s book we used to read had one of the character’s head grow each time he was self-centered and arrogant, until the point that his hat didn’t fit. So, I like your comment.

  7. I tend to take so long to make up my mind about anything that when I finally do, I hold on to my conclusion pretty fiercely. I invest so much time and energy that it’s difficult to let go. Perhaps I don’t want to start the process over again, knowing what it will cost. Podcasts are a handy way to be exposed to different points of view and, without the pressure to form an immediate conclusion, really think about them for awhile. What you say is true for me as well; in personal conversation I want to get my point of view out there too, since I have potentially been thinking about the topic for months and have my arguments on standby.

    1. Kristyn, I love the long format of Joe Rogan’s podcast because he really allows people to talk. I just can’t listen because he rarely forms a sentence without cursing. ( Actually, I haven’t listened in months. Maybe he’s changed?)

  8. lol. Reminds me of someone else I know??? Hmmmm? who could that be? Mirrors are very eye opening things. I have wanted to break a few recently. lol

  9. Covid 19 has given me months of being alone and freedom for self-reflection. I agree with your statements, but, for me it goes further. It started out feeling like one mirror…. but y now it feels as if I am in a jungle of mirrors. LOL… I wouldn’t know what is a true reflection if I saw it right now. 😉

    1. Les, it is hard to have only one’s own thoughts. COYVID has taken a toll on just chatting with friends.

  10. In today’s divisive environment, we could all use more mirrors and avoid breaking them, as well…

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