Saturday, February 15, 2014

Friends, Windows, and Mirrors

So, my sister and I were talking about someone who we have noticed does not have a lot of friends.  She was pondering on the reasons why this lady just did not seem to have, or keep, her friends.  That is when I gave her my theory of friends, windows and mirrors.
Window washer at a children's hospital
Windows and mirrors, you see, are pretty much the same thing.  They are glass put somewhere to enhance a surrounding.  The only difference, really, is that one piece of glass has silver behind it, making it reflect back, instead of making it see-through.
  Both are perceived differently with the eye and, standing in front of either, each only allows one dimension to be seen.  In the same way, we say that "the eye is the window to the soul" and, as eyes go, I believe that people are generally either a window, or a mirror.  Window eyes  see outside of themselves.  Mirror eyes really only ever see themselves.
  For those who's lives are a window, they see around them.  Not in the sense that they see anything different, but the way they process the information around them is very different from those people who are "mirrors." They see the mom holding the baby and a purse and trying to strap the child into a stroller with three other kids hanging around and asking why they can't have a cookie. Nothing remarkable. But someone who is a "window" sees that scenario, mentally puts themselves in the position of the mother and thinks, "CRAP!  She needs two more hands or she is going to exhaust the last ounces of precious patience she was granted for today!  Let me go offer to help without seeming like a creeper...."
  Window people see what is going on outside of themselves, and experience life through making evaluations on what it would be like to experience life as others do. And they act accordingly. They offer to help load an older woman's groceries, because they perceive that is something that is difficult for the elderly.  They notice a child standing alone in a grocery store, and stop to see whether mom is nearby, or whether intervention is needed.  They notice the car in the dark that is not turning over and do a mental check to remember if they have jumper cables in the back of the car and wait to see if the engine catches. When window people talk to you, they look straight in your eyes, and it can be massively uncomfortable because you kind of think they are looking straight into your soul.  Unless they are awesome, and then you HOPE that they will look into your soul, and see what no one else can see.  The good parts of you, and the parts that have never had the courage to vocalize, "Help me... I'm still hurting from something...."
Snow White's step mom and her mirror.
  Mirrors are a little different.  Mirrors send back exactly what is in front of them.  Depending on the lighting, you can discover a zit that you didn't know was there, a newly sprung gray hair, or a bit more chub where you hand't noticed it before.
  Mirrors also show off a perfect lipstick line, perfectly groomed hair and eyebrows, and how the stairmaster is doing its job with your can-can.   This intensive detail mapping is not new.  In Greek mythology, there is also a famous mirror that attracted a handsome young man. Forgive me for inserting wikipedia here for the synopsis:
Narcissus and his mirror
"The classic version is by Ovid, found in book 3 of his Metamorphoses (completed 8 AD): the story of Narcissus and Echo. Narcissus was walking in the woods when Echo, an Oread (mountain nymph) saw him, fell deeply in love, and followed him. Narcissus sensed he was being followed and shouted "Who's there?". Echo repeated "Who's there?". She eventually revealed her identity and attempted to embrace him. He stepped away and told her to leave him alone. She was heartbroken and spent the rest of her life in lonely glens until nothing but an echo sound remained of her. Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, learned of this story and decided to punish Narcissus. She lured him to a pool where he saw his own reflection. He didn't realize it was only an image and fell in love with it. He eventually realized that his love could not be addressed and died."  It wasn't a silver mirror, as we now know them to be, but rather a still pond that allowed him to gaze at his own reflection and admire all of the good and desirable things he found about himself, but the illustrations are the same.  Each gazing individual is wholly consumed with one thing, and cannot see anything else around them.
  We learn a couple of lessons here, the first being, of course, that if you piss off a woman, OR her girlfriend, you gonna die. Though we hardly fault Nemesis for trying to teach the selfish Narcissus a lesson, it is also a true lesson that mirror people are often their own punishment.  They lack close friendships, or have friendships that are only superficial and "good" when the other person is willing to let the conversation center around them, their thoughts, their desires and/or how they look.  In my experience, these are the people who will announce, loudly, that they are "bored."
  Window people, on the other hand, are rarely bored.  There is so much to see, so much to do, and so much to know, understand, and experience with others.  They don't tend to exclude, form tiny elite groups, or only identify themselves with one type of person.  They realize that everyone has something to teach, if you will only be patient enough to listen.
The Mirror of Erised
  J.K. Rowling understood this when she wrote of The Mirror of Erised ("Erised" is "Desire" spelled backwards, fyi). Inscribed across the top of the frame is the following text: Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi. Reversing the inscription and rearranging the spaces produces: I show not your face but your heart's desire.
  It is as though she understood the mirror/window concept and figured out how to project what was inside a person's soul onto another surface. The results seen in the mirror were very telling for each character. It revealed what kind of person they were like on the inside. Dumbledor, for example, when he happened upon Harry, saw what Harry saw; a desire for the boy to be with his parents. Dumbledor is a window. He advises young Harry, "Men have wasted away before it, not knowing if what they have seen is real, or even possible," and ultimately, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that." In other words, don't be a mirror and dwell on yourself, be a window and live the organic, imperfect, life that is surrounding you. See through your eyes outward of your desires, and notice people - their needs, and where you can be a help and interest in other people's lives. Don't forget them. And don't waste your life just waiting for others to step into your fantasy and make you whole.  Don't wait for them to come to you and make you happy; use your eyes to see others and help make THEM happy.
Harry and the Mirror
  And so it is with people and friends.  There is a "seeing" and acceptance that happens when you have darling friends. And they will inconvenience you at the worst time possible. But it is the seeing, and the being there for them, the mutual consideration, love and helping each other that makes it so rich, so rewarding, and so utterly enjoyable.
  So, all things considered, it is best to be a window.  And if you must be a mirror, use it to reflect light into dark places; make a short cut between your brain and your mouth for every good thing that comes into your mind; "I love your boots/pants/watch/haircut/eye color!  Your child is adorable!  You have on ONE kickin' outfit today. I loved your cogent comment.  I'm still rolling it around in my mind.  Giving my brain hamster a workout!  Cute purse!  I wish I had your hair..."
  Cost you nothing. But it sees.  It notices, and it sprinkles goodness in a land parched of goodwill.  And you will have friends.  And if you are good to them, and try to clean your windows of perception regularly; understanding that the person who was sharp with you may have just found out that her husband lost his job, or received a diagnosis that they are not yet sharing.  Make room for possibilities.  And if you will clean your windows, see the good that is around you, then you will not waste away your life wondering if you are perfect enough, pretty enough, or ready enough to get out there.  Or to be judged of others.
Harry Potter with his friends. Each a window, they notice each other.
   A great man once penned: And charity (being a window-type person, aware enough to see others and do stuff for them....) suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail— 
  I have these people in my life, and I am eternally grateful for my friends.  I don't have mirror friends, I have window friends, and I do my best to let them know each other.  It is wonderfulness multiplied - like throwing open curtains in a dark ball room on a sunny day - the more the light, the better it is, and the easier it is to see and feel warmth.  Mirrors rust.  And we will all  die anyway.  So.  You were put on earth to enhance this world.  If you can, and everywhere possible, may I highly recommend that you be a window!  You will always have amazing friends, your life will be rich, and your friends will hopefully give back and  love you for seeing them.  For we reap what we sow.


1 comment:

Amber P. said...

This is beautiful! I love the examples of characters and their mirrors. Really sends the message to the heart.