Thursday, 25 February 2016

Hall of Mirrors

The eye is a false mirror. The ear is an unfaithful receiver of sound. The lips when moved in speech don't always utter the words you intended to speak. All senses can lie. To you, their attentive host.
Even my facial expressions don't always match what I feel, think or say. Sometimes they give my unvocalised thoughts and feelings away; sometimes they add depth to what I say so no convoluted explanation is needed. Often, they help. Often, they cause confusion and give a false reading. I have no idea what face I'm pulling and it's not polite to stare into another's eyes just to see yourself reflected back. That boundary can only be crossed if you share a close bond. I, myself, have never reached that intimate level or felt comfortable enough to cross it. Frightened, I guess, of what might be revealed.
Look into my eyes. No, I say. I will look away time after time. Angle my body in a certain way to deflect that intrusive gaze. Consciously lower my lids.
What is it that I run from? Purposely avoid? What I'll see or what the person staring into me will learn?
Most certainly the latter, but nor would I want to intrude. Sneak in like a robber, force a window to gain access to somebody else's personal property. Even when it's consensual I find it difficult. I almost immediately break it, assert that the moment has passed. Time's up, a brisk wind has slammed the window shut! You'll have to be quicker about it.
Anybody slipping in, asked or unasked, is for me a violation. I equate it to taking a photograph: some part of you is captured, forever contained in that black and white or full colour image. A trace of you always remains in the developed picture, whereas the eye, unguarded, gives too many people ready admittance to a deeper part of you where words, gestures or expressions are unneeded. A part of you that should be, in my view, held sacred, and not shared with any public figure. Such lax distribution splinters your soul. And a splintered soul can be extremely hard to piece back together. Too many connections made, too many links to be cut, too many fragments floating somewhere out there like dust motes. The particles too small, the distance too vast.
I'm too resolute in my approach to this matter: unbending, defending, distrustful. I should relax a little, find a middle ground and not draw the black-out down quite so much. But when it's become hard-wired (in habit and in character) it's not so straightforward to undo. Frankly, who would have the patience to try?
The eye is a deceiver, a false mirror, as I said at the beginning. There's nothing to see here. There are no mysteries to unravel. No answers to universal questions. Yet because I use my eye as a shield people invariably think under these half-closed lids there are. There's always more to a person than you imagine, but the realities and truths unconcealed are disappointing because you've already assumed something other about their personality or way of life; then the real test comes. Do you persist with the optical illusion or attempt to plunge under the lens into the pupil's liquid depths? Or do you just simply forget, move on?
A reserved person requires persistent efforts. The workings of their mind can frequently be seen ticking over, yet still they hold back. Suppress how they'd sometimes like to behave because their privacy means more to them than your average person, especially if they deem their life is uninteresting or don't consider anything they do to have value. They don't offer because there's nothing they feel of any note, and yet every chance encounter with someone of that vein is different. Exciting because they conceal so much and give away little; the occasional crumb when it unexpectedly comes opens up a whole new vista. I never knew that about you. How could I not know that?
Beguiled people new to this dance realise late that this dropped crumb is only one of a series of looking-glasses in an immense Hall of Mirrors.

As printed in Shadowplay: Memoirs of Light and Shade. For further details, visit my I Live to Read page.

Picture Credit: The False Mirror, Rene Magritte