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  • Writer's pictureKyveli Papaioannou

Other Mirrors

Updated: Sep 2, 2023

"I'm hungry." "You're not hungry; you're doing it because you don't want to study." "I'm not sleepy." "You are sleepy, but you don't know it." "Don't cry; it's nothing."

Many lenses have emphasized that what we perceive, what we feel, and what we comprehend are often distorted. These lenses dictate, "This is how you should see, this is how you should understand, this is how you should observe." And with these lenses, which we sometimes reluctantly donned, occasionally leaving us dizzy, inducing headaches, marking our noses, and slipping off our ears, we ventured into various groups - sports teams, ballet classes, dance troupes, school cliques, workplace circles, social communities. Perhaps, before drifting off to sleep at night, we placed them briefly on the nightstand, allowing us to view the darkness through our own unique hues.

"It suits you." "See what it reflects back to you." The more discerning, the more defiant, or the more curious among us sought to comprehend what we see, why we see it, how we see it, and encountered the aforementioned expressions. People in our lives serve as mirrors, revealing where our gaze lingers, what we discern, the lens through which we illuminate our daily existence, whether we exist, how we exist, and in what manner. Instances when someone vexed us may have triggered a realization that they were reflecting a facet of ourselves that tends to chatter rather than take action. Moments when we felt ensnared with another person might have mirrored our own hesitation to progress, our fears, and indecisiveness. Occasions when we fell deeply in love, perhaps the other person reflected our own beautiful aspect capable of loving and caring, and instances when we persevered despite adversity might have mirrored our own strength and resilience in the present. Others serve as mirrors to our "I am," indispensable compasses guiding our evolution.

Our initial mirrors were our parents. Through them, we gauged our beauty, intelligence, diligence, laziness, humor, irritability, or reticence, as though our very existence hinged on these reflections. These mirrors were flawed, riddled with cracks and imperfections, forged through the crucible of their lives and the skewed mirrors through which they viewed themselves. "What were they doing wrong? They did the best they knew and could." "What about grandparents?"

As you delve into the annals of history, you unearth a sequence of akin mirrors that, in turn, charted a course. In the realm of physics, the observer wields influence over the experiment; their observations intervene in conditions, altering them, and thus the outcome diverges from what it would be sans observer. But how do we ascertain existence and its nature in the absence of an observer?

What if there were no mirrors, no others to reflect our "I am"? Perhaps we would, akin to Luftig, find ourselves disconcerted and seek another to serve as the mirror, enabling us to recognize both ourselves and our existence.

Excerpt from the book 'How Much Am I to Do'

a woman's face on the mirror


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