September 5, 2013

The Truth about Mirrors. ~ Verena Toth

Photo: Cea

Some years ago my life went through a catastrophic change.

For some reason I had to confront all the worst things of destiny. Some family members got seriously sick, others had forsaken us leaving us alone. After months of hard work, sorrow and fear, life slowly went back to normal. But I didn’t look at myself in the mirror anymore, because I was too tired.

I invested the rest of my strength in my work because there was a chance to get the job I had been working to get for many years. I knew I deserved it because I did all the best I could do. But I was betrayed and denied.

To make matters worse, I was deserted by my best friend. She left me all alone and I was lost. I couldn’t understand what went wrong because I always did my best at work and was a good, honest friend. But in the end I lost everything.

I hated myself and blamed the one in the mirror. But the mirror only showed blurred outlines.

Then I got sick; I couldn’t go out into the sun anymore and the world around me turned to dark. I felt sad, alone and desperate. The picture in the mirror showed only a dark shadow of me.

After years of loneliness, deep self-doubts, disappointments and insufferable pains, my strength, my hope and my feelings were gone. I only existed, day after day. In the mirror I saw nothing—no blurred outlines, no shadows, not black, not white, not grey. There was nothing.

I realized that I have to change the mirror itself.

I discovered a little shop. Over the entrance I read “BLF—We have the vision.” I thought they must be experts for problems with mirrors. I went in and begged the woman at the desk for help.

The young woman eyed up my mirror. She looked into it and then she said: “What is the problem?“

“The mirror doesn’t show anything. I can’t see myself,” I answered.

She looked into it again and said: “But the mirror is intact. I can see myself. And I can see you as well. Maybe the problem is only yours and with your eyes. If you don’t believe me, go and ask other people.”

I left and walked on the street.

A tired-looking woman walked up, one child at every hand. I went over and talked to her: “I have a mirror but can’t  see my reflection. I don’t know if it is only my fault. Would you please have a look into it and tell me what you see?”

She did what I asked for and told me: “I see a deserted wife, a single mom without a future, no money and never enough time. Always concerned, working her ass off to make a happy life for her kids but it is never enough. Not a pearl of beauty, dark rings under the eyes.”

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

~ Edith Warthon

I stepped beside her and wanted to see what the mirror reflected. I could see only one person. It was she, but I saw a completely other picture of her.

“I see a loving mother, who makes her kids smile and happy every day. This is a hard-working woman, she will get a chance if she believes in herself. And I see a beautiful woman. She is totally adorable and she will find someone who will appreciate her beauty, love and kindness.”

“You can see this in me really?” She asked and I agreed. Her kids agreed too: “Yes, that’s what we see too, mommy. Every day. Not only in the mirror.” The woman smiled, gave me a thankful look with tears of happiness in her eyes. The little family shared a big hug. And I left them alone.

I met a homeless man sitting on a paperboard with a bottle of whiskey in his hand. I gave him my mirror and asked him the same question.

He said: “I see a failed, worthless, dishonourable man. A man who had everything but he lived his life without awareness. He drank, he lied, he betrayed. He made many mistakes, never repented and then there was no chance to retrieve his errors anymore. Now he got what he deserved. An unkempt dirty hobo, not useful for anything.”

I stepped on his side and looked into the mirror.

“Maybe you are wrong. I see a man who has the strength to overcome his own past. Someone who can learn from failures and deserves a second chance in life. If he finds a way to face his shortcomings, he will find a new purpose in his life as well. He only needs to be brave for making the first step into the right direction.”

“But how could it be? Do you really think somebody would give me a second chance? I sit here all day, most of the people do not even notice me, let alone give me a dollar.”

“But I noticed you,” I replied.

Then I gave him all my cash. “It is on you what you will do with this money. But I trust you to do the right thing,” I said and left him alone.

I ran into a business man in rush. He didn’t take his eyes from the display of his smart phone, even though I asked him to look into the mirror.

“I don’t have time for something stupid like this. Trading floor is waiting, my boss will come down on me like a ton of bricks if I mess up this deal. But I am sure I would see a middle-aged, frustrated workaholic with a chronic stomach-ache. Because this guy is working his ass off for a damn office on the 23rd level. And after an 18 hour work day no one is waiting for him in his luxury apartment. You wanna know more?”

“No. I tell you what I see when I look at you in the mirror. I see a man running in the wrong direction. But I know he can turn around. If he would put his phone back into the bag only an hour and go through the streets with open eyes, he could see the green grass, the blue sky and the beauty of the day. I am sure his stomach-ache would disappear immediately. And I see he is not alone.”

After my last sentence he looked at my face for the very first time. I gave him a smile and he smiled back.

I took my mirror and walked down the street. I was wondering why people only could see bad things of themselves in the mirror.

I went into a theatre. A young actress was rehearsing on stage. She was alone and recited a beautiful poem. She recited the words and played her part with such sweeping passion, exuberant joy and powerful emotion that she brought me to tears immediately. I was convinced this lovely woman wouldn’t see anything bad in the mirror. So I went up to her, gave her the mirror and asked my question.

I couldn’t wait to hear what she would tell me. But her answer was a big surprise:

“I can’t see anything in the mirror.”

Before I could say “Same here!” she added, “I have been blind since I was born.”

I couldn’t believe what she said. “But how can you be an actress without knowing what people do? How can you move without seeing what is happening around you? How can you recognize who is in front of you? How can you act without seeing what people feel? How can you trust somebody?”

“I don’t need eyes to see what people feel. I don’t need eyes to know who is in front of me. I don’t need eyes to recognize who is good and who is bad. I only trust in my heart. You for example, are a an empathetic, caring and unselfish person. I see strength, passion and honesty. You have a shining light. You are a beautiful person. Look at yourself in the mirror!”

“I wish I could believe what you say. I haven’t seen myself since years,” I replied.  “My mirror didn’t show me myself in a very long time. I can see only the reflection of others.”

“Then, please, come at my side and describe what you see!” she said. I did what she wanted. In the mirror I saw a clear picture of a person: the face of a happy woman, sparkling blue eyes and a beaming smile. An aura full of happiness, self-confidence and fulfillment.

And then suddenly I realized, this is my face!


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Ed: Dana Gornall/Ed: Sara Crolick

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