I was recently told to “look in the mirror” as if it would be some kind of epiphany inciting moment. I believe, like most people, self analyzing is a tricky business, but one we are all experts at ironically. Every person, no matter how complicated, is quite aware of what they like, what the want, and for the most part are aware of their own faults as well. I stood in front of my mirror in my bedroom to looked at myself expecting some creature to appear behind me, turn around and see nothing there. But no creature appeared, no monster was lurking in some other dimension only visible in the mirror. And I instead began wondering why anyone would still use such an old, beaten cliche. And it dawned on me: People sometimes use popular phrases and cliches so they don’t have to synthesize something original themselves. It could also be cliches simply nail the point on the head. But in complicated matters, those that pertain to the emotional, spiritual and philosophical aspects of the human experience, well, those require some originality and are generally unique to each individual. In other words, if I were to analyze another person, say my cousin, it would only be fair and right for me to do so with his individual traits in mind. Now, my cousin and I have had a few disagreements throughout our lives, but for me to bring myself to reconcile with him over (often juvenile) disagreements and misunderstandings, cliches have to be kept to a minimum. There are some things that require individualized attention. And for me to interject cliches to remedy our disagreements would be a great disrespect to him as a family member because I do know him very well and understand his need to be treated with respect.
I’m no fool and understand why someone would tell me to “look in the mirror,” but felt cheapened by the notion. It was as if I were some kind of stranger or co-worker that wasn’t worth the time to be analyzed properly and simply given the cliff notes. So I continued to stare at myself and noticed some changes in my physical features (I have been working out obsessively lately). My hair looks pretty good. My arms are showing some definition. What was it this person wanted me to see? If my personality traits and idiosyncrasies were what I was supposed to be observing in the mirror, clearly this person used the wrong cliche. Not one to be overly challenged by something so mundane, I listened to some recordings of band rehearsals in which I act my normal self around the guys in the band. I listened for a long time to the interactions between the songs and found myself chuckling a lot; guys bond when there is beer involved and they talk about women -what a riot! I didn’t notice much there that would paint me out to be a monster. Life seems very jovial during band practice. Still, not detoured, I found some video footage from various times in my life to find what it is I was supposed to see “in the mirror.” I look at footage with all the outtakes from years ago when I was still roommates with an old friend who had a crazy idea for a scripted reality show. Talk about some real laughs! There was the footage of a trip to Virginia with my friend Mike (who passed away recently), his girlfriend, and the drummer in my old band, Manolis. The footage was very candid and enlightening. Not because I learned so much about myself and my friends, but because I realize how fragile life is. How precious and short. I watched with some sadness at my joking around with my now deceased friend, but it kept me happy anyway because life was good at that moment. In fact, there wasn’t anything bad at all in the hours of videos I watched. Video clip after video clip were candid moments and spontaneous things being said and done. My eyes were starting to hurt from staring at the computer screen. Could it be I am just a good actor? Do I merely “put on a show” when the microphone or camera is on? Is my life just a big “put on?” It can’t be possible that every single time I am being recorded that I manage to hide the monster evidently present in the mirror, can it?
I went back to my bedroom and stared some more at myself. What on earth is this person talking about? What exactly is wrong with me that everyone around me during candid moments on recorded audio and video seem to get along fine with me most of the time? How is it that I am so good at hiding my monster to so many people ALL of the time? I suppose I am just human and can fly off the handle like anybody else. And that’s when it hit me: It’s when I am around certain people that the MONSTER appears. That has to be it! It’s like a magnet that sticks to certain metals, but not others. Could it be what I am supposed to see “in the mirror” can only be seen when there is a particular person in the mirror with me? Aha!!! That’s it!!! I sat down on the edge of my bed in great relief. I solved the mystery of the monster in the mirror. The reason I couldn’t see it is because it literally wasn’t there with me. How profound! Now, I can relax….