Mirror, Mirror…

“Nothing is more capable of troubling our reason, and consuming our health, than secret notions of jealousy in solitude.” Aphra Behn

As we go about our lives, we often hold onto visions of our true selves as the heroes from stories we have heard all of our lives. Stories like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and the Little Engine That Could teach us wonderful lessons about courage and bravery and the rewards of faithfulness and perseverance.  These are all good things to hold inside and mull over, to be sure.

However, there is more to any story than a happy hero going off to be brave, unselfish, and finding true love (not to mention a throne) without a hitch. Without danger, there is no bravery. Without a need for sacrifice, there is no unselfishness. Without a struggle, there is no victory and ultimate happy ending. Many times, these struggles come to the hero in the form of a nasty piece of work known as the Villain. As villains go, it’s hard to come by nastier examples than the ones we see in fairy tales…..except the ones in real life. Of course there are the ones notorious throughout history. We should definitely learn our lessons from them. By and large, though, the majority of us face villains much more tame and boring (thank God!).

If we are truthful with ourselves, we must eventually admit that just as often (perhaps more-so) as we are the heroes of life, so we too are also sometimes the villains. Yes, Snow White, I’m talking to you. You, also, sometimes find yourself looking jealousy at the blessings of others, their friends, position, status, reputation, looks, spouse, and on it goes… Sometimes, you have wished that bad things would happen, the truth to come out, loss of reputation, loss of position, loss of love, loss of fortune, even loss of life. How, then, does this make you any different than the Evil Queen who once sought your own life?

If we look at the other side of the stories we cherish from our youth, we see the repercussions of pride, thoughtlessness, arrogance, greed, jealousy, and all the rest. These should be lessons to us as well, perhaps even more dear to us than the ones we glean from the heroes’ stories. When we gaze into our mirrors, we need to see the truth of who we actually are.

Many of our world’s villains thought themselves to be heroes in one way or another. They felt misunderstood, wronged by fate, persecuted, maligned, talked-about, misused, abused, and unlucky. Many of them were, but it is what we DO that makes us a hero or a villain. Every hero has odds to overcome as well.

Our reflections should show us more than how good we look. We can also see where things are out of place, dirty, missing, or broken. When we reflect on the person we have become, we would be wise to take a brave look at our true selves so we can see the things we should be working on. The point of a mirror, after all, is to help us look and be our very best.

But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth]. For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror; For he thoughtfully observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like. But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience).”  James 1: 22-25



My Favorite Things

Poetry is a projection across silence of cadences arranged to break that silence with definite intentions of echoes, syllables, wave lengths.

Poetry is a journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly the air.

Poetry is a series of explanations of life, fading off into horizons too swift for explanations.

Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at barriers of the unknown and the unknowable.

Poetry is a theorem of a yellow-silk handkerchief knotted with riddles, sealed in a balloon tied to the tail of a kite flying in a white wind against a blue sky in spring.

Poetry is the silence and speech between a wet struggling root of a flower and a sunlit blossom of that flower.

Poetry is the harnessing of the paradox of earth cradling life and then entombing it.

Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.

Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.

Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment.

(Ten Definitions of Poetry) Carl Sandburg

Most of my favorite things have to do with people. For example, the poem above reminds me of a teacher/friend I had when I was 16. She took me on a day trip on horseback and we had poetry and tea and a memory that will last a lifetime. Now, I know next to nothing about horses. I’m not sure where they keep their withers or their pastern or much else except that you have to remember to clean out their hooves. I do love to see movie scenes where horses run, like Hidalgo or The Man From Snowy River. I don’t have to understand them to appreciate their beauty or the fact that even today they are incredibly valuable and useful animals all over the world. Sometimes we love things without being able to explain why.

I love going to the river to swim and taking along a picnic, preferably in a nice big ice chest. I love camping and going to camp. I love music festivals and county fairs. I love to dig my feet into the sand at the beach, dry or wet. I love yogurt and granola. I love Willow Ware china. I love making people laugh until milk shoots out their noses. I love to listen to birds chirping outside. I love the narrative voices of James Earl Jones, Charleton Heston, and Burt Lancaster. I love pretty much anything Jim Henson, pretty much.

Storytellers have always been special to me, like the school librarian, Mrs. Schramel, when I was in second grade. She read Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and the Peanut Butter Sandwich and many many others to my class. I credit her a great deal for my continued love of books and literature, especially children’s literature. Adult fantasy is so often cruel, tawdry, and scandalous instead of fun, inspiring, and heart-warming. I have enough ick in my real life and past. I don’t need it in my entertainment, thank you.

Recently, I was also reminded of my longtime love of the Anne of Green Gables movies and books. (I even found the soundtrack on YouTube.) All of these things that I enjoy so much are connected in some way with people that have been or are in my life. Of course you can’t always carry all these things around with you like a junk man with an overflowing cart. Things can serve to remind us, but they cannot be an end in themselves.

I think maybe the people featured on the show Hoarders are just getting it backwards. They long to have the memories, but think that they must hold on to all the things as well. Our minds can hold many more relationships and memories than our houses can hold things. What do we want with so many things anyway? That is a lot to take care of all the time! Is it not so much easier to hold onto the people in our lives, and carry them with us in our hearts, where they will never grow old or die? Hoard your memories, my friends, but never your things. There are always more than enough good reasons to give them away.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew  6 : 19-21