Albus Dumbledore: “Let me explain. The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is. Does that help?”
Harry Potter: “It shows us what we want… whatever we want…”
Albus Dumbledore: “Yes and no. It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts.“
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone, Harry stands in front of the Mirror of Erised and the reflection shows him sitting with his parents. For those who have never read Harry Potter, Harry’s parents died when he was a little boy. For Harry, his deepest and most desperate desire is the love from his parents, and so, as he spent hours staring into that Mirror, that is what he saw. The happiness of a desire that can never be.
I always wondered, what would I see in that mirror? I’m ashamed to answer that question. Would I, or could I be as Dumbledore says, see only myself, as I am?
I’m ashamed to answer the question because for the longest time, I’ve considered myself more a soul; more a mind than my body. And so to admit that I’d like to change my body, is embarrassing for this soul of mine. If i could have it, we’d all be floating souls.
But even then, couldn’t I find reason to hate myself? Wouldn’t I find some flaw? Shouldn’t I be smarter, more intellectual, funnier, funner, more laid back, more everything and anything?
The answer can’t be found in canceling out the body. Because Gd knows, I’ve hated the contours of my soul as well.
We are what we are, it’s a dry lesson that often gets caught in our throats.
And so today, I’m sitting in front of my mirror, my regular mirror, that will only reflect to me what is there. I’m looking into myself, at this body, and trying to see if my soul peaks through even a bit.
I can’t help but think of Pablo Picaso’s famous painting, “Girl before a Mirror”. Picaso painted his mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter, looking into the mirror. Walter is a beautiful women, but what does she see when she looks in it? It’s not a direct reflection, but rather a distorted version of herself. Vanity. She is dark, her eyes hallowed, and face downcast. Her feminine body twisted and contorted. As the woman touches her reflection: what is she trying to do? Unite the two versions? Weep over a falsity that she believes to be true?
It’s a familiar story. How many of us look into our own mirrors and see something different than what stands before it. So today, as I approach my mirror, I want to push it all aside, I want to stare deep into the reflection and see what’s there. Just that.
What do I see?
Me. What I am. Plain and Simple.
Today I spent about 20 minutes staring at myself. That’s it. Just that.
What do I love about my body? My smile. Every minute or so, my solemn face broke out into laughter at the situation (I mean, I’m just staring at myself!?!) My eyes squint when I smile and my nose flares, making my entire face light up. Suddenly, in that moment, I see more than this face of mine: I see me. And so, I can say that every time I smiled: I loved it. I LOVE MY SMILE!
What do I love about my soul? I love that I had the strength to start this blog. I love that I have the strength to stop any cycle of hate and take the first baby step to begin loving myself, fully and completely.
When I get stressed out, I close my eyes and repeat a well known mantra of “I love you, you are enough, you are enough”. But the problem is, while the mantra can carry me through a tough moment, it’s only when I start believing it, that things will change.