Mirror mirror on the wall.......who's the fairest of them all ?
My mother was a simplistic person who believed in austerity. She despised any cosmetic enhancements, and never wasted time, preening before a mirror when getting ready. My elder sister who spent hours before the mirror in narcissistic indulgence once quizzed my mother about her casual indifference with her own reflection. My mother's terse reply -" Your father is my most authentic ,hi fidelity mirror. He reflects the beauty of both my outer as well as my inner being too" - redefined my paradigm of aesthetics.
As time passed, my relationship with my father evolved into a profound camaraderie. He would often encourage me, and motivate me, revealing the latent qualities, capabilities and strengths lurking within me. He would also , on occasion highlight a few idiosyncrasies that escaped my own self assessment. He indeed was a high fidelity mirror reflecting my true nature congruently , no matter how inaccessible it seemed to anyone else including me. He was in fact , part of me, cleaved from myself, observing me from without.
Close relationships are high fidelity mirrors. They reveal not just the beauty but also the subtle imperfections and nuances of ones total personality. The persons we are close to and comfortable with are often people who reflect the positive ,pleasant and desirable traits within us. The darker shades of our personality are also revealed albeit gently, in a manner that doesn't make us self despicable. Mirrors that have not just high fidelity but high sensitivity. A sensitivity, that doesn't miss the subtleties but also, a greater sensitivity in the art of revealing them.
Then there are some delinquent mirrors , like ones in funfairs, that only reveal caricatures of our personality. They are masters in the art of magnifying the unpleasant, distorting our image, to the point of raising serious doubts " is this really me"?
A mirror that reflects the radiance and beauty of ones soul is a soulmate. A mirror that highlights the strengths and camouflages the weaknesses very subtly till eventually , revealing the beauty of the inner being, that obfuscates any cosmetic correction. A relationship that helps transcend the form, redeeming it from any subservience to its image.
Interactions with people are a window to catch a glimpse of ourselves.
Our own image keeps changing kaleidoscopically during the course of multiple interactions. This diverse imagery effects a waxing and waning self esteem , which is, a function of the reflection. A plurality of identities , a multipolar personality, however raises doubts about our true self. Is there any immutable part in me ? Is my impression of myself, so fluid, so subjective?
Am "i" merely different reflections in different mirrors ? Do i need a reflection, constantly, to assert myself ?
Is a reflection, the only testimony to my existence?
A reflection is just visual cognition, but so is a mirage. Both are perceptions by the same visual apparatus. The former, presumed to be a testimony of the real, the latter, confirmed as a concoction of the unreal. The crux lies in fidelity of perception, rather than fidelity of cognition.
The "true "self is the screen of consciousness on which the various images keep getting projected. The screen , that remains unaffected and unchanged, irrespective of whether any image is projected or not. The true "self " is an awareness, that needs no testimony of its existence. It is simultaneously,the image, its creator, its observer and the phenomenon of observation .
Dr Deepak Ranade
(The author is a consultant neurosurgeon- email@example.com)