Mirror musing

When we packed up our stuff, we were getting ready for an impending move. We think, “ah yes, then (after the move) we’ll be the same. But is it true? Sometimes yes, and of course sometimes no. Is the rain the same? Well it is still wet, but it does come down in differing quite measurable amounts, and it stands to reason that if it picks up moisture in the Gulf ofMexico the water produced there will be physically different from if rain that was “picked up” in the ponds and blue ridges of Virginia. Average inches of rainfall change with climate analysis, but it strikes me too that it actually changes the “feel” of the rain coming down. (Or so it seems to me.) I know, too, that this idea is bizarre enough that I’ve never heard it expressed. What do you mean, nut case, even the rain is different? I think it is true. How else do you explain snow?

Well, never mind just boring old temperature, I mean wet can be Maine or Mobile wet, and no one will persuade me they are the same. But before the memory fades, or the rainfall discussion changes me forever, I want to talk about the mirrors hanging on the walls of our place inMobile, Alabama. Melissa and I have lots of mirrors in rooms, makes them appear bigger, lends them more character, and I would have thought that I never looked for myself in them. They were hung for decorative purposes not practical ones, so I thought. But when we recently sold our home of a dozen years in Mobile, Alabama, and I would pass through various rooms as we were continuing to pack them, I grew to realize that I have microseconds when I do in fact look at myself, without seeing. I mean that as I began to have fewer mirrors in our rooms, I began to feel surprised at how empty the rooms themselves looked, and also began to notice that I would look at the wall where the “mirror formerly known as me” was positioned.

I wasn’t there, of course, simply because the mirror was gone, and I really wasn’t aware that I had ever actually looked for me in those supposedly decorative places. But in fact I eventually realized that I really had been looking for me all along, and continued to do so. Now, however, normalcy was gone. I was gone. “Who are you when you’re at home?” This is a British commonplace, and is intentionally funny as one hears it. When asked in sincerity, it can suggest, what are you like when you’re not using a public face? What are you like when you are not worried about appearances? We all assume that the private face might be more authentic, maybe more intimately expressive, not at all caught up in the common process of “painting” one motions or thoughts or ideas or personas for the benefit of others. I seem to think now that I may want to discuss those micro-seconds of a glance, that I had been previously not even aware were happening. And what I am looking to see, is probably who I would see when viewing my secretive authentic, private-self. In a sense it is the evoking of James Joyce’s idea that: “Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.” as he says in The Dubliners. I’ve always thought the line a sad testimony to the fact that many of us don’t follow through with the Delphic inscription: “know thyself.” We like to think that we do, but without those little forgotten checks in a mirror, I’m not so sure that we in fact do. When we get dislodged, we don’t know where shit is. We don’t know where we put our keys, our wallets, or our shoe polish. Routine and stuff in its place save us steps in our normal walking around lives. We think things extremely valuable, and we don’t want to look around for them, so we develop routine locations for them. In Dutch homes, one finds the shoes at the door. We think our wallets, because they contain money or credit cards to be important. So we stash them in a clever drawer, put them on a dresser top. I’ve directed play readings where I have asked actors to bump or jangle a hanging set of keys to illustrate that they are arriving at a stage home. This was easier and somehow more effective than miming the opening and closing of a door, and distracting with obvious stage technique. Though I began this note as I was packing up to leave Alabama, I’ve arrived at three different places in three markedly different states. The first, in Virginia, had a bathroom with a nice sized mirror. The second in N.Y., had small sink mirror in a bathroom, and maybe one in a back bedroom. The new place in Maine has one of our own mirrors hanging over our new fireplace as well as the three that came with the house above our new bathroom sinks. In Maine, we are more established, and more “at home.” In fact we “see ourselves” more often. Three times as many places. How do we recognize ourselves in a place, unless mirrors are in place? Why are mirrors important? Are they important? Do we see in them amore authentic self? What do they reveal to us? Do we see them at all. My impression is that we don’t even want to catch ourselves looking in a mirror unless at a wash basin where it is more acceptable to do so. Admittedly this is heavy handed, but we don’t want to catch ourselves looking, because we don’t want to think of ourselves as self consciously fixated.. Who’s making such judgement other than we……. of ourselves? Who are we fooling when we say we’re not looking? When we pack up our stuff, we are ready for an impending move. We think, “ah yes, then (after the move) we’ll be the same. But is it at all true. Sometimes yes, and of course sometimes no. Is the rain the same? Well it is wet, but it comes down in differing quite measurable amounts, and it stands to reason that if it picks up moisture in the Gulf of Mexico the water produced will be changed from if it were “picked up” in the ponds and rivers of Virginia. Inches of rainfall change the climate, but it strikes me, too, that it actually changes the feel of the rain coming down. Or so it seems to me. I know, too, that that’s so cockamamie that I’ve never heard such an idea expressed. But before the memory fades, or the rainfall changes me forever, I want to talk about the mirrors of our place in Mobile, Alabama. My wife and I have lots of mirrors in rooms, makes them appear bigger, lends them more character, and I would swear I never look for myself in them. They are there for aesthetics not practicality. But when we recently sold our home inMobile, Alabama of a dozen years, and I would pass through rooms as we were packing them, I grew to realize that I have microseconds when I do look at myself, without seeing. I mean that as I began to have fewer mirrors in our rooms, I began to feel surprised at how empty the rooms themselves looked, and also began to notice that I would look at the wall where the “mirror formerly known as me” was positioned. I wasn’t there, of course, simply because the mirror was gone, and I really wasn’t aware that I had ever before looked for me there. But in fact, I eventually realized that I really had been looking for me. Now normalcy was gone. I was gone. “Who are you when you’re at home?” It is a British commonplace, and is intentionally ironically funny as one hears the question. When asked in sincerity, it can suggest, what are you like when you’re not using a public face. We all assume that the private face might be more authentic, maybe more intimately expressive, not at all capable of “painting” on emotions or thoughts or ideas for the benefit of others. When we pack up our stuff, we are ready for an impending move. We think, “ah yes, then (after the move) we’ll be the same. But is it at all true. Sometimes yes, and of course sometimes no. Is the rain the same? Well it is wet, but it comes down in differing quite measurable amounts, and it stands to reason that if it picks up moisture in the Gulf of Mexico the water produced will be changed from if it were “picked up” in the ponds and rivers of Virginia. Inches of rainfall change the climate, but it strikes me, too, that it actually changes the feel of the rain coming down. Or so it seems to me. I know, too, that that’s so cockamamie that I’ve never heard such an idea expressed. But before the memory fades, or the rainfall changes me forever, I want to talk about the mirrors of our place in Mobile, Alabama. My wife and I have lots of mirrors in rooms, makes them appear bigger, lends them more character, and I would swear I never look for myself in them. They are there for aesthetics not practicality. But when we recently sold our home inMobile, Alabama of a dozen years, and I would pass through rooms as we were packing them, I grew to realize that I have microseconds when I do look at myself, without seeing. I mean that as I began to have fewer mirrors in our rooms, I began to feel surprised at how empty the rooms themselves looked, and also began to notice that I would look at the wall where the “mirror formerly known as me” was positioned. I wasn’t there, of course, simply because the mirror was gone, and I really wasn’t aware that I had ever before looked for me there. But in fact, I eventually realized that I really had been looking for me. Now normalcy was gone. I was gone. “Who are you when you’re at home?” It is a British commonplace, and is intentionally ironically funny as one hears the question. When asked in sincerity, it can suggest, what are you like when you’re not using a public face. We all assume that the private face might be more authentic, maybe more intimately expressive, not at all capable of “painting” on emotions or thoughts or ideas for the benefit of others.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s