My husband made me a mirror, for our sixth wedding anniversary. It’s red oak with a wide-open grain. The style is American Craftsman and the hallmark of that era is that the beautiful workmanship can be seen. The joinery – where one piece of wood fits perfectly into another, where one-piece stops and the other begins, is visible. This mirror is not trying to hide anything. It wants you to see beauty in how it was built. Its purpose and its artistry are one.
But my mirror’s true artistry lies in how it reflects me.
It’s magical, because I look AMAZING in this mirror. No shit. I am not being poetic, or “loving myself the way I am.” I look great. Whether I am rushing by in underwear to brush my teeth before dropping my kids at school, or stepping into a red carpet designer dress, my body looks smooth and strong and gorgeous. It reflects back to me exactly what I want to look like.
And just in case you’re thinking, “Aw she just looks good in mirrors.” Let me set the record straight. I, like many women, have been known to leave dressing rooms in tears vowing never to take my clothes off in front of anyone again… including myself. I mean, when I stand in front of a normal mirror I look like a Lucian Freud painting. He makes everyone look like their insides are on the outside. It’s very artistic; I just don’t want to look like that.
Next you might be thinking, “Flicka, there has got to be another explanation – I mean all mirrors are created equal.”
Maybe…maybe it’s just that I don’t have my glasses on or the lighting is super-dim in my closet. Maybe if I really investigated the magic in this mirror, it would stop being real, but see, I DON’T CARE IF IT’S REAL!
The report this mirror gives me is so encouraging, such a relief, and so pleasurable, that I don’t care if it’s a great work of fiction, because this mirror, that my husband made for me, reflects back with the prejudice of love.
I read somewhere that good marriages are built on who each of the people think the other person is – not necessarily who they really are.
For example, I worked with a man whose wife was a cold, nasty, controlling woman. Everyone who met her went, “whoa – scary.” But he thought she was the kindest, most wonderful woman ever. When he talked about her he would say, “ I mean, you know Carol, she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.” And, what could we do but nod our heads in wonderment.
But maybe that is HOW he saw her so that is who she was with him.
I can only assume that the magic in Bill’s mirror is the transformative power of love. Being reflected by somebody with love transforms your own experience of yourself.
Thank you for this, Bill, and I hope as our girls go through their teenage years I’ll continue to see the joinery of our family: where I stop and they begin. I know they will need to be separate from me, but still be joined and no matter what, that I reflect back to them with the prejudice of love.
I would like to pass this mirror down to my girls. But as I think of it, perhaps their husbands will have to build them their own magic mirrors.
Do you have someone in your life who sees you as a swan when you feel like a goose?
Do you have your own magic mirror?
Here is to love in August,