An ad I came across on the Internet got me pondering. Round mirror for sale, never used.
Once I arrived home, I confronted the hexagonal, guild-framed mirror hanging in my lounge, one I’ve had for a while. “Are you used? Your frame must be chipped and the glass slightly scratched, but that’s not what I mean.”
How can a mirror be not-used? Hasn’t the factory worker ever looked in it after coating the glass with a reflective surface? The framer assessed his work, as he raked his fingers through his hair? Hasn’t the seller peeked and winked at it while smoothing his tie? Or a female customer paused in front of it for a moment to refresh her make-up, and continued shopping. So it’s not wear and tear I’m talking about, it’s the functionality, the main task of a mirror that should count.
A mirror’s first duty is to create a perfect reflection of the person or an object in front of it. If we accept some of the above probabilities to be true, then we must conclude that the mirror has been used. Yet, there’s no proof because the mirror doesn’t have a memory. It doesn’t record anything. There’s no flashback, a rewind button, or any tangible evidence. In that sense, a mirror is inferior to a camera that produces printed or digital copies which people can later peruse and reminisce the moment.
So, my lovely looking glass of thirty years, every time I glance at you, you reflect back my current state, but nothing from the past, when I was younger. Nor my late mother’s image when she stood before you and touched her hair, or any glimpses of my beloveds who are no longer in my life. You say the departed cannot be perceived with the eye because they become tiny specks of light. I agree with that, but I’m still here, so are the estranged ones.
I can’t remember when I first saw my own reflection in one, but I do recall watching my father shave before the bathroom mirror, his face covered in white foam. And my mother sitting at her dressing table and putting on lipstick, then dabbing it lightly with her finger.
Is it vanity, a narcissistic habit that we consult mirrors for approval each day? Or is it a self-destructive approach that gives us pain as we age? I don’t know when the attachment starts, perhaps with a shy peek during teenage years, until it becomes an addictive routine. I’m three-dimensional, though the image you project is two-dimensional, an illusion of how others see me, just like the photos.
Yet, when I look into you, I see other things than what you show me. I can search your depths and bring back visions from my mind’s eye. Maybe I should avoid you, stop witnessing my aging process, if not day by day, but from year to year. Perhaps, you’re being kind by not showing me the past. Telling me I should stay in the moment and not delve into the folds of time.
Sometimes I see my mother peeking back at me or my grandmother’s eyes in mine. Other times the radiant face of a young girl greets me with a smile and whispers, “What will be, will be.”