As a parallel to the Thousand Searches poem, which seems to have got a lot of people thinking, if not commenting, I’m posting an excerpt from 100 Days (the book I accidently wrote, next time I’ll write one on purpose!). Exploring that same idea of really looking at yourself:
…At some point I finally just sat down and stared at myself in the mirror. Really looked at myself. I started by realizing the face was somehow unfamiliar, like I really didn’t know who it was staring back at me. It’s funny, considering how often we look in the mirror, that we never really see ourselves. At least for me the mirror is the place I see what my hair is doing, investigate that blemish, check for food in my teeth. But instead, to really look at yourself, the way you would look at a new lover, or a dear friend who’s moving away. Gaze following the line and shape of a face, allowing the form to become familiar, to connect the sight with what you feel and know about that person.
Very weird thing to go through that process with yourself. I was struck by the soft beauty of my face, and felt tenderness for the sadness and struggle showing there. That feeling made me smile, and watching myself smile lit me up inside. Stunning, amazing, almost too much for words (and frankly I’m feeling a little bashful about it all, like I’m afraid I’ll be teased for my new crush). Feeling like I’d made friends with myself again, I could go to bed with some sense of peace and contentment.
That sentiment was still there when I woke up this morning, was with me as I went for an early morning run, and even stayed with me for my meditation. That sensation is still with me now. Perhaps this time it will stay with me for a few days, so I can relax and enjoy the beauty of the day and build up some momentum for the next phase.
Really looking… try it and tell me what you think.
Want more on falling in love with yourself? Try: The Truth About Hearts and Flowers
7 thoughts on “Really Looking”
I reflect on myself,
Who I am.
Beliefs and choices,
Carve out forehead wrinkles.
I pick out of habit.
Signs of perpetual frustration.
Ten Year riddles.
Ten minutes of contention.
The lines show unease,
but momentary hapiness is real,
momentary happiness is true.
So I was sitting down this morning (finally got a chance to just sit still for a while!) and was looking at the houseplants beside me. Using a bit of an investigative eye, I was looking for disease, bugs, failure to thrive – a critcal look at which ones had survived the winter and which ones to give up on.
Then I remembered something I’d read in the Celestine Prophecy about looking to see the beauty in something transmits a loving energy to it, nurturing and supporting it. And I wondered, then what kind of energy am I transmitting looking at a plant to see what’s wrong with it?
Then I thought about this posting, and what kind of energy do I transmit to myself when I look in the mirror with criticsm rather than appreciation…
I am so saying “you RAWK!” every time I walk by the mirror from now on.
Finally here’s my response…..
Mirror, mirror on the wall
Who is the fairest of all
Who is the sad old lady
Who is constently staring at me
And why so gray is her hair
And why’d did she invade such a private space
Doesn’t she know it’s impolite to stare
And why does she look like a basket case
I don’t recall inviting her in
But she’s always there
She shows up on gray and moody days
Wearing the same clothes as me nontheless
When I ask her who she might be
the only thing she does is mimic me
I believe her name should be Tess
I wish she would go away
And let the real me finally shine in……..
soft and round
the curve of my belly
with 20 lbs of relapse weight
cruelly crammed into too-tight jeans
bulge and spill into muffin-tops
but moments like this
free of encumbrances
soft and round
the curve of my belly
is a sight to behold
(very strange to write a love poem to what you want to hide)
It’s been a couple weeks since I read these posts. I sat down with a mirror, said I could give myself 10 minutes. At first it didn’t seem like I was doing something new. But it’s different, to plan just to look.
At first I noticed weight on my cheeks and neck, felt negative, considered how I’d been eating wrong. Blah blah bleah. My cheeks and chin are so smooth. I was disappointed in looking ordinary, seeing so little character. My forehead keeps some wrinkles, I find that more interesting, maybe proof of a journey, and I still don’t know when that happened.
I looked. There are so many colours on my skin. Orange, yellow, pink, beige, tan, willow brown spots, dark brown spots, brown which is dark hairs over beige skin and me needing new glasses.
It’s hard to look at my whole face at once. I wonder how I look at anyone’s face. My pupils are big, my eyes are so dark. I keep getting caught up in detail. Distracted, I remember happenings today, and my face changes so much with humour. Or as the humour fades to neutral. As I look longer, I’m surprised at the restfulness I feel, and that I’m not bored. Maybe this builds a feeling that I look ok, or that I know myself.
At one point I feel impermanence, anxiety, grasping, an emotional contrast to loneliness. Which is strange, because I am the person who will never leave me.
It’s strange, because last year I drew a lot of crayon self portraits. Strange, because I have an inner sense of meeting my own eyes often. But looking is different, almost not me. I was once standing in a line and I looked over and saw someone. I thought “Who is that friend, how interesting, where do I know her from, how can I know her so well, how can I feel so good about her?” But I was looking at myself reflected in the glass of a window.
Wow, just extraordinary. Thank you for posting it.
I’ve been reading James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces and he’s got a great bit about how hard it is to really look yourself in the eye. Check it out:
“…I step forward and grab the edges of the sink. I open my eyes and look up into the mirror and for the first time in five days I see my own face. My lips are cut and cracked and they are swollen to three times their normal size. On the left side of my cheek a row of crusted scabbed stitches hold a deep, inch-long gash together. My nose is bent and swollen beneath its bandage and red lines stream from my nostrils. There are black and yellow bruises beneath both of my eyes. There is blood, both wet and dry, everywhere.”
[He writes about cleaning up his face and then:]
“…I turn off the water and I run my hands through my hair and they’re warm and they feel good and I try to look at myself again. I wan to see my eyes. I want to look beneath the surface of the pale green and see what’s inside of me, what’s within me, what I’m hiding. I start to look up but I turn away. I try to force myself but I can’t.”