I find myself looking a lot at reflections lately. I know I am prone to minor obsessions but they ususally work themselves out after a couple of weeks. This one, though, has been around for a while. I find the subtle changes that the medium makes fascinating: the wavering introduced to a straight line, the barely noticeable change in colour, the different perspective offered by looking sideways.
I was reminded recently of a fellah who used to come into the bank I worked in years ago in Dublin. His name was Joe Caulfield and he was from Dundalk. He had dirty-blonde hair and always looked like he’d been dragged through a ditch backwards. One particular day, I was really upset about something I’d done (or not done – I can’t quite remember). He asked me if I’d been able to look at myself in the mirror that morning without squirming. I had. He told me then that I’d nothing to worry about – we are our harshest critics. I’ve no idea where he is now or what he’s doing and doubt very much that he knows how those words affected me. That conversation has stayed with me for nearly 30 years. And then, during the week, when I read this verse, I had reason to remember Joe and his words of wisdom.
‘When you get what you want in the struggle for self, and the world makes you king for a day; just go to the mirror and look at yourself, and see what that man has to say. For it isn’t your father or mother or wife, whose judgment upon you must pass; the fellow whose verdict counts most in your life, is the one staring back from the glass. He’s the fellow to please; never mind all the rest, for he’s with you clear to the end. And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test, if the man in the glass is your friend. You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years, and get pats on the back as you pass. But your final reward will be heartache and tears, if you’ve cheated the man in the glass.’
After a week of ups and downs, chaos and quiet, I’m grateful that me and yer woman in the glass are still on good terms.