We only ever see ourselves, reflected. Through cut glass, charged between lenses, in pixels, by the harbour of a still pool. Our reflections exist in the eyes of others, in the minds and hands and hearts of others. In what we make, in what we build, in what we create.
We can never stand across from ourselves, face to face, in raw flesh, fully flawed & pigmented – and be real.
I’m no master observer to point this out. The reflections metaphor is about as worn as my Apple TV remote. However, I have been thinking about it a lot lately. This quest to reflect ourselves powerfully on the world. Moments of our lives, sought like snapshots for the fulfilment of that dent of triumph, that achievement unlocked, and then onto the next one. The two mirrors in my apartment almost consume me some days, with the illusion that they are the closest I’ll get to knowing myself. In most every action I perform, from folding laundry to making art, I seek confirmation that it reflects back on me as a good wife, friend, employee, tenant, passenger, artist – person.
It’s difficult to comprehend we exist as more than the sum of our reflections. Even the thoughts in our mind – the place where we consciously make sense of ourselves and our existence – are mere reflections; interpretations, however distorted, of the world around us. Sometimes, I feel like the whirling inside our heads is like a funhouse – stretching, warping, pulling everything out of shape. Insisting it’s showing us truth.
There must be a self that exists beyond the reflection. Perhaps there is a way to access it, or to catch a glimpse. But perhaps it’s not something that can be seen, rather something that must be felt, embodied, like a swallowed flame. I wonder, if it burns.