The Magic Mirror

A new fantasy-based TV Show on the ABC television network has caught my attention the last few weeks. The program is called 'Once Upon A Time', and it is based on the premise that legendary fairy tale characters are real and they've been 'spelled' by the Evil Queen into the modern era and have forgotten who they are.

Now, this Evil Queen - who is played by the beautiful and talented actress Lana Parilla - owns and uses a mirror quite similar to the traditional 'Magic Mirror' from the fable. In fact, she has hundreds of them, scattered throughout her dark castle. The spirit of the mirror hops from mirror to mirror as he talks to her while she is moving.

The TV version seems to deviate from the original Grimm Brothers fable, a bit, here. In the original Grimm tale, the Queen asks if she's the fairest in the land. And the mirror responds 'Queen, you are full fair, 'tis true, but Snow White is fairer than you'. And thus a conflict is born, jealousy runs rampart, and hilarity ensues.

Seeing this modern version of this tale reminded me of a time, about four years past, when I had a rather soulful discussion with a young woman about her own troubled self-image. This dear friend didn't like herself very much, at the time. She had big plans and grand dreams, but lacked the self-confidence to follow through on them.

She asked my advice about her plight, a few times back then. I told her the truth, as I saw it: That before you could believe in others, before you could believe in your own future, you had to learn how to believe in yourself. I would say to her 'You have to learn to look at that woman in the mirror you see each morning while brushing your hair, and learn to love HER. Do that, and the rest of the world will sense the change and slowly, over time, follow suit..."

Apparently she heeded that advice: Four years later, she is a changed woman today, with lots of friends, confidence in herself, purposeful to her dreams and ambitions, and with the ability to stand out in a crowd and a make real difference in the lives of people around her. That is the lesson of this piece, which I jokingly call 'The Magic Mirror'. Like the one in the fairy tale, the mirror never lies, not even to an Evil Queen. It always tells the truth, if you're willing to face it and bear witness to what it tells you.

Do that, and you'll begin to see REAL magic in your life.

It isn't the mirror that is magic, in the end. The real magic is wielded when we are honest enough to face that 'mirror', examine our own strengths and weaknesses, perform an critical self-analysis of ourself, our lives, our natures, and our dreams, and make a change in our lives based upon what we discover. I've had to do that, in my own life, more times than I care to admit. I see many things in my 'mirror', some good and far too many bad. I can't say that I've conquered all of my faults, but sometimes just knowing about them opens a person up to some real positive change in their lives, over time.

The mirror is blatantly honest, remember. When others speak of you, all too often there is the chance that their public judgment is clouded, or veiled for one reason or another. When you face your own mirror, however, in the privacy of your own bedroom, bathroom or even virtually in the secret confines of your own imagination, there can be a whole lot less deceipt in the process, if you're serious about yourself and your expectations.

So what was my discovery? Well, first of all, a confession: Privately (and sometimes publically), I'm a bit of a ham! I love to make different voices (a hobby of mine), some serious and some silly, and put face to them. Facing the mirror for me can be quite amusing. I'll mug for it, try out different characters, see what I look like when I'm serious, silly, thoughtful, sad, or simply (for a brief moment) deranged!

But when the laughter is over, there's a darker side to it, as well. I am a man of many talents, but none of them developed to the point of excellence. When I look in the mirror, I see a cautious man who is often TOO cautious, TOO untrusting. I see someone who is fearful of opening up to others; fearful of trusting others. I see a man who is, though middle-aged, in great physical shape but I also see the dim shadow behind him of the broken, elderly man that he is quickly becoming, and I am reminded, once again, that time is fleeting and that the opportunities we wish to take advantage of must be conquered now, not later.

I see a person who is often full of secret, silent rage that has no outlet, due to the past violent history of his family, and I worry that keeping all that hostility in might prove to be more damaging than letting it out. I see someone who at times is so caught up in his own inner thoughts, plans, schemes, and projects that he tends to mix up his priorities and not tend to the pressing needs and concerns of those he loves all around him. Standing in front of MY mirror, occassionally, is a man who has traveled to the future so many times he has forgotten both the painful and the pleasant lessons of the past, or he has dwelt obsessively on the mistakes of the past so much, he loses sight of the boundless, wonderful possibilities that can lie waiting in the future, if only he reached out and acted on them.

As you can see, these Magic Mirrors are a mixed blessing. Like the one in the 'Snow White' tale, they are blatantly, brutally honest. When we face them with conviction and objectively, their magic, though incredibly powerful, can be both pleasant AND painful.

But isn't that the point, in the end? Sometimes before the wound can heal we have to become AWARE of it, in the first place. And before we can do battle with the dragons of our own lives, we had best be aware of our own strengths and weaknesses FIRST, or the dragon we seek to defeat might just prove too strong, and stop us from changing.

In the temple of Apollo, in ancient Greece, was a simple phrase inscribed in the floor of the forecourt. Legend says it was written by the Greek periegetic (travelogue) writer 'Pausanias'. That phrase, to this day, sums up the power and purpose of our 'Magic Mirror', quite nicely.

The phrase read 'Know Thyself'.

Then or now, hero or mere mortal, no person can accomplish what he has in store for his future until he has first fulfilled that grand quest; until they have stared into their own personal Magic Mirror and have learned to both KNOW the person staring back at them as well as learning to LOVE the person they see in that reflection.

Find yourself a mirror. Prepare yourself for conquest: The future is waiting....