I stand in front of the mirror probably a million times a day. Half of those times, I’m fixing my hair, brushing teeth, putting on mascara, adjusting my outfit, or just having the famous pre-shower, body positivity session.
And yet I can say that there has only been a handful of times that I’ve actually looked at myself in the mirror. I mean really looked at myself. I’m talking about the days you just sit in front of the mirror, and look.
It’s absolutely terrifying.
The concept seems very…rudimentary — frivolous, if you will. It is simply me looking at me, which is the very purpose of a mirror. Except, that’s just the thing: it is me looking at me. A straight, unwavering gaze into my own pupils. It is probably the most unsettling experience I have ever had. (Go try it and come back to gain some ineffable context).
This feeling I had deep within me actually made sense as I realized that this is one of the only of times in my life that I have actually acknowledged my own existence; an acknowledgement different from the adrenaline or spontaneity that make you feel alive, or those existential crises that make you realize you’re but a speck in a churning cosmos hurtling through time and space: it is the opposite of realizing how small you are and, instead, realizing just how big you are — zooming in instead of zooming out.
When I sit there, mesmerized and paralyzed, nothing else exists but my eyes, then I suddenly become acutely aware of the presence of my mind, and then of the occupation of that mind within my body. Even with the few meditation sessions I have had (I am still extremely novice), there has been no other activity or exercise that has ever evoked this feeling. It is the most peaceful yet earth-shattering epiphany to look at yourself, and to truly see yourself.
Of course, with the endless stream of social media in our picture-centric society, I have seen myself an infinite amount of times in an infinite amount of ways: ugly, happy, beautiful, scared, confused, sleeping, laughing, screaming, singing. I have seen every possible variation of my face and body, and I have essentially memorized all of my own expressions so that when I make them toward another person, I know what they are seeing. I am like every other person in this way; we all know how we look like (or at least, how we perceive our own appearance). Yet never have I looked at a picture of myself and truly been hit with the magnitude of my single existence.
This feeling is comparable to that weird, hyper-aware moment when you realize all the people in the movie are actors, that they are indeed NOT that character and have a life and mind separate from that role.
And I have become so used to simply living that I tend to forget that I am, well, living. Every day has its routine, its own special moments, its own cocktail of emotions, but I still live every day without much appreciation for its magnitude (journaling tends to counteract that though!).
Turning eighteen yesterday brought about another wave of awareness of life and the reality of my own: eighteen years on this Earth, in this body! But that’s a mental breakdown for another day. (Shoutout to mirrors for showing me my growth every step of the way).
Taking those moments, those powerful minutes, in front of the mirror is something I want to implement into my daily life. Those moments are nothing short of meditation (AKA magic), and they allow me to slow down in all of the flurry of life.
I need to appreciate my existence much more often.
So despite the vanity associated with mirrors, I think they actually stand as one of the most fundamental components of spirituality. Not only do they allow us to view our physical existence, but if you look long enough, you can see yourself in all your infinity.
Hear, hear for mirrors!