Looking in the mirror this morning, I was startled by the disconnect between my mental self image and what I saw. I was somewhat uncomfortable, really looking at my reflection, especially my eyes. Perhaps it was because I was afraid that I would be far from pleased with what I saw. Whatever the initial reasons for my reluctance, I felt I would experience some profound illumination if I did. I dared to stare!
My mind flashed back to my picture on the mantle where all my family member's portraits were neatly displayed. Looking now at my reflection, it occurred to me how much my outer being had transformed within the two years that had elapsed since my last self portrait. The new natural hairdo that I dared to sport at the time, secretly dreading how it would look as time progressed, had now blossomed into a pleasing foliage. I reached up to touch my hair, feeling its texture and enjoying its kinkiness. Gone were the days of the chemically induced smooth strands, bleached and limp from the removal of its vitality. I stroked my hair while looking at my reflection, distracting myself from examining my soul mirror: my eyes. Why are you scared to look? My inner voice spoke to me with a slight hint of amusement. Here I was, playing a game with myself. The difficulty with this game however, is that any attempt to bluff was laughable. One thing I am no longer able to do is to fool myself. With a deep resigned sigh, I dared again to stare at me, this time holding my own gaze and committing to look without judgment or fear
In the world of astrology, there is a well-known term, the Uranus Opposition. This is one of several significant cycles that usually hit early to mid forties. According to astrologist Kevin Burke, the Uranus Opposition is a time ...when we tend to receive periodic flashes of the brilliant, disruptive, innovative, unusual and unexpected energy of Uranus, and gain insights on how we are meant to break out of the limitations and structures in our lives.. While I cannot claim to have credible knowledge of Astrology nor do I know enough about the field, this statement resonated with me. Here I was, 40 plus years old and apprehensive about glancing at my reflection in the mirror. Deep down I knew why and I was resisting the thought. However, it was time to refrain from further suppression.
THAT'S NOT ME!
My reflection seemed like a half hearted expression of how I see myself in my mind. When I close my eyes I see a powerful Goddess, fearless and in full bloom. Confidence radiates from my smile and there is a peaceful acceptance of my whole being. The "me" in my mind attracts attention like moths to a flame, not because of my garments but the vitality and joy is absolutely magnetic. I see myself gliding, not walking and I am calm even though there is immense activity around me. I closed my eyes momentarily to conjure up my true image and I smiled. Now look in the mirror, my persistent, inner voice said. I took a deep breath and opened my eye again. The woman I saw looking back at me was not a false representation but a lukewarm version of my mental image. Momentary agitation swept though me as I suddenly felt a need to break free from some invisible bond. Uranus Opposition, Mid-Life Crisis! Whatever the label, I do believe there must be some truth therein because I felt like I needed to do something or change whatever it was that was restricting the full manifestation of my perfect image. This I realized would take some soul searching but at that moment I had no idea how to begin the process of change when I could not identify the what. Remembering that my self-inspection should be void of judgment and fear, I stared at my eyes, searching for my inner Goddess.
With heart engaged and the unleashing of self love, I began to see more in the mirror. My brown eyes held a knowing glint and I must have been momentarily insane because I was sure I saw an almost imperceptible wink. I stood up straight and looked at my body as well. More curves were present than in my Goddess image but I do believe I was alluring just the same. My hair lacked the luster that glorified health and vitality but these things can surely change with the right nutrition, exercise and attitude! I was beginning to see my reflection transform in very subtle ways and I was pleased with the decrease in the dissonance between the dream image and the actual. The corners of my lips curved upwards into a smile as I became more comfortable looking at me, in my mirror.
What we perceive is the translation of the inverted image projected unto the retina in our eyes. Our brain tells us what we are looking at and this information is perhaps an image that was previously stored. Like a computer searching for stored data, what is retrieved depends on the various pointers that are activated when the input is received. This a highly simplistic description of what actually happens in the fantastic computer that is our brain. Sufficient however is the description to illustrate that what is perceived may be depended on the input. Maybe I saw in the mirror what I expected to see, from experience, and not what was really there? Maybe I am already like my perfect Goddess image but because I have not consciously decided to see myself in this way I am merely retrieving stored data.
Is there something wrong with my mirror? Or is it just me?
Flickr Photo Credit To J Anand
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Malaika is a freelance contributor with MNI Alive.