Monday, August 28, 2006

Real Reflection

Real Reflection

That's not my real reflection, she said. I've changed so much since then most people barely recognize me.

~Brian Andreas~

It is a very dark, rainy and windy morning here in Chicago. And the rain is coming down hard at that wonderful sideways angle that guarantees that no matter how you hold your umbrella, you end up soaked. And since I walk to work I experience the full brunt of the weather. But it’s not better if you take a bus or a cab or drive. The rain slows down every bit of traffic, so a cab takes twice as long as a walk. And I don’t really mind, not even the sideways rain.

And I didn’t have my iPod with me, so instead of listening to music I had a chance to think (in between dodging the umbrellas of everyone crowded onto the sidewalk to avoid the drenching splash from buses plowing through puddles).

I was thinking about how I have a very clear vision of myself – who I am, why I’m here, what my life is meant for, and what I have to do to maintain my integrity and self-respect. But that’s all been clouded over for a long time, covered with a film that had a reflective surface. And because it's been wrapped around me, and not hanging flat on some wall, the reflection it mirrored was wavy and bumpy and and constantly moving. So the reflection I got back looked nothing like I expected or understood.

Which is to say, that in looking for this essential aspect of myself, I kept seeing distorted reflections of others. Maybe this is part of being a Libra…maybe we have this component of confusing ourselves with others. What we mirror to others and what they mirror back to us. Of course, all relationships have an element of that, but I have felt it acutely, and for as long as I can remember.

And I have a certain kind of sensitivity to people. I can know what they’re thinking and feeling without trying, which can be a wonderful tool if put to good use, but it also means that I’ve been receptive to sorrow and confusion and fear that resides in others and floats around in the atmosphere. It’s found a home in my mind and heart simply because it could.

But that’s changing. I’ve connected these experiences to very specific people, but mostly they’ve just been triggers for activating this sensitivity. Because in order to avoid being completely overwhelmed, I’ve often ignored what I sense from others. It’s not a good technique – it didn’t keep the sorrow away so much as I just pretended it didn’t exist. And then someone or some memory comes along and makes it impossible to keep pretending.

Stepping away from the game of pretend has been wonderful. I’m in the middle of a very magical point in my life, where illusion is being replaced by an even better reality. So all this stuff I was shielding myself from simply has no room now in my heart or mind or life or relationships. The sensitivity is still there, but the indiscriminate absorption of every bit of other people's sorrow has stopped, or should I say it's been transformed.

I'm not simply a sponge or a mirror anymore; it's not just about absorbing and reflecting, but it's about creating and expressing. Which means that my very clear vision of myself – who I am, why I’m here, what my life is meant for, and what I have to do to maintain my integrity and self-respect – has a home now in the place that all the other stuff was being stored. And it’s a much better fit.

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