Something a little different, in an avenue I imagine we all struggle with.
I have this huge mirror in my bathroom. No, really, I do. This thing is HUGE.
The side effect of it being huge is that I look into it a lot, even when I’m not intending to do so. I see me, when I walk to the toilet (to, as I might say, ‘liquidate my urinary assets’). I see me when I shave haphazardly at some unearthly hour of the morning, to go to work, or church, or just wake up in the middle of the night and need a drink of water.
I see me at my best- stopping at home before the reception for Mike and Leah’s wedding, decked out in full formal wear, reviewing my notes for the reception, inexplicably calm as I do so;
And at my worst- late night grappling with my direction, and God’s role for me, screaming at the sky and myself, any facade of control breaking as I try to make sense of it all.
Despite this, I often forget what I look like, how others see me. It’s jarring to realize sometimes, when I envision myself as being A, and so many others see it in me as B. I am my own worst critic, and struggle a lot with what I percieve to be my failings. I’m not strong enough. Not decisive enough. Not nice enough. Not good enough.
I’ve come to believe that there is such thing as too much reflection.
Perhaps it’s the disturbing absentminded nature that I’ve developed these last few years that makes me forget my own image. Or maybe I’m looking into the mirror without really knowing what’s there. Or I’m reading too much into it. Yeah, probably that.
I wonder, sometimes, what it would be like to talk with him, the man in the mirror. On the plus side, that’d be someone else intelligent to talk sports with, and another possibility for the ever-rumored ‘twin switching’ scam that’s been suggested more times than I’d care to count. On the minus side, well, we’d need another bed. And he’d be lippy. Believe me, I know.
I still ask, occasionally. When frustration and silence and my own uncertainty gets to the point where I need to step away and think it over, I check in with him. He doesn’t say much that I wouldn’t. I’ve gotten beyond the point where I expect him to.
“So what’s the right thing to do?” I’d ask. Doesn’t matter what it is, if I’m here, at this mirror, mulling it over. Little thing. Big thing. Important thing. Important-to-me-but-maybe-not-anyone-else thing.
In that world where he does respond, he’d look back, taking a deep breath, very clearly thinking it over. I know the expression he makes- I imagine it’s on my face when I’m trying to think of the ‘right thing to say’. “I don’t know,” he responds, trying to give whatever it was that was bothering me (and, by association, him) the full measure of his attention.
“Well of course you don’t know,” I quip sarcastically. “That’s why I’m here.”
“Yeah,” he’d respond, conceding the point. He steps away from the counter (when did either of us start leaning on it?), and takes a couple of steps around the wide expanse of the bathroom. He turns to address me, looking for my input. “So how does it play out if we mess up?”
“End of the world,” I retort again, pushing off the counter myself, frustration not being abated by the fruitless conversation. I’d been over most of this already. “Neither of us wakes up tomorrow.”
I sigh after this, well aware that I’m testing his patience with my continued stupidity (this time, it’s a look I see on others- yep, I’ve done that before). “Sorry.”
“That’s a bad habit,” he says, knowing full well what had happened before when our sarcastic streak got the best of us.
“Yeah,” I respond. Another sigh, as I try to stay on topic this time. I need to solve this. “But we’re still here.”
“And so is our problem,” he says. He adopts a small, knowing smile, of a man who has a secret, and knows the other man does too (another expression I imagine I make a lot) “We should know better by now. It’s never as big as we make it out to be.”
“You know, knowing that after the fact never really makes it any easier NOW,” I reply, again allowing him that point (as something I was subconciously aware of, but not always acknowledging), but still struggling with that issue.
It doesn’t matter what it is, in the end. I always analyze and consider it to the highest degree, trying so hard to do the right thing. Family. Friends. Politics. Faith. Life. Love. Knowledge. Or the lack of these things. Some combination of those parts that are inexorably intertwined into the tapestry of my life, of what makes me. Add a thread, make it deeper, more complex, more beautiful. Pull on a thread, and it starts to come apart.
It always feels like someone’s pulling, some days.
I’m leaning on the counter again, looking at him. He is too. “So we’re back where we started,” I sigh.
He nods. “What’s the right thing?” he asks, less a question than a re-statement of what we’d said before.
He hadn’t helped much. But then, I hadn’t really expected him to. Being me, we’d see it the same. There’s silence for a few moments, neither of us meeting the other’s eyes, as we both look for some angle that we hadn’t considered, some way to make it easier.
“You know He’ll take care of it,” he says, not looking up. He doesn’t need to say who it is. We both know. Growing up in a church, that was the ‘Sunday School’ answer, the one ingrained into both our minds. Faith, love and happiness. Trust God with it, and it’ll all work out fine. “No matter what happens.”
“Yeah,” I say, resigned to that, as if it is the last option. It’s funny how I so often do that, struggle with the concept of faith, being a Christian. I always want to do something, do the right thing, make the right decision, be the right person. And so often, when it doesn’t happen, I’m back here, at the mirror, second guessing myself, my decisions, the person that I am. Sometimes I remember that He does use me, even when I screw up.
“Have faith,” I continue, trying to mean the words as I say them. “Because He can do all things.”
I look back into the mirror again, and he’s gone, with my own reflected image back there. I’m never sure if I feel better or worse about it, whatever it is. I step away, to my distractions, or to work, or to church, to talk with Him (since, really, part of faith would be talking with God rather than myself), or off to try and solve whatever problem it is that has my mind warring with itself so, praying that this is the right thing to do.
And I know I’ll be back here, talking with him, silently, or in voice. For all his faults, he does make an excellent ear.