Tuesday 26 February 2013


As a rule I expect a mirror to reflect, accurately, that which is facing it. It's simple. However, my mirror, my inner mirror, that is,quite often reflects that which I would wish to see reflected in it. For instance, the other day I was on a bus. I had taken a seat near the front which displayed a sign giving priority to those "less able to stand".  The bus was very full and presently a lady boarded who was using two sticks. Dear Reader, my legs were about to lift me to my feet to accommodate her when the irony struck and I sat back hoping some real forty-year-old would have the grace to offer a seat. She did. During a recent snowy spell, I picked up the phone to see if an elderly friend was safe and to offer to clear her steps for her. This impulse and image dispersed only after she answered the phone and instantly asked me if I were mobile and if my steps were clear.  I have been more than forty for nearly as long ago as I was forty so it really is time I saw the world as it is not as my wish/instinct would want it to be.

A few days ago I went with one of my young to an exhibition. I don't do this often because my legs and back get tired before I have seen even a tenth of that for which I had come in the first place. Spying a wheelchair and being nothing if not practical he suggested we use it. The bullet was duly bitten and I clambered in." It's not that long", said I, with some rue, "since I was pushing you around". The pleasure of enjoying the exhibits without the habitual grinding pain of standing and walking too far did outweigh the intrinsic embarrassment of the situation, though. It only needed someone to speak of me in the third person, as in " Can she see from down there in that chair?" to highlight the dichotomy. "Why don't you ask her" quoth my pusher, at which the 'concerned' onlooker melted swiftly away in to the crowd. There is no rehearsal for old age. One can hope only that the sense of humour that saw one through the middle years will continue to serve one well in the final ones. I really don't see myself as someone who needs a wheelchair in a Museum, nor needing someone else to clear the snow. However, I do recognise my image in an actual mirror.  I have learned that that is also distorted and that what I see in front of me has not quite the same alignment as that which is seen by people  beside me in the same dimension .  Someone close to me caught sight of herself in a mirror the other day. Regarding her image she struggled to recognise the self it portrayed. Having spent her youth exquisitely beautiful she was not easily reconciled to the current reflection. No good to persuade her that, as it happened, that reflection was not an accurate representation of the  face the rest of us saw. The loss of the beauty she had enjoyed before would not be easily mollified by a sort of its-not-as-bad-as-you -think, however helpfully intended.
 I see there is some relationship between the mis-alignment in a looking glass and the perception of oneself as a person who gives her seat to others less able to stand whilst resting on her stick herself. "Between the idea and the reality, falls the shadow". : no doubt. Nos da


Anonymous said...

Another brilliant, perceptive post!

liveotherwise said...

At a couple of years past 40 I'm struggling to work out where the 23 year old me went and frightened of what comes next. I'm guessing it comes to us all.

sarahhillwheeler said...

Well said, liveotherwise. I was wondering if it was only me. Suddenly brought up shapr, I feel like screaming "stop the clock"!
Lovely piece, seeing it from a different, but identifiable, perspective.