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To Evaluate Your Appearance, Really Look in the Mirror
Per Olov Enquist
My appreciation to my wife for translating this beautiful piece of prose from her native Swedish.
As you can “see” seeing with your physical eyes is not the subject of this man’s observation. Seeing with your heart and mind is. I am torn between the emotions of Father’s Day, the emotions of my Swedish wife and friends on the day after the wedding of the Swedish princess, and the consternation of some of my patients' who do not appreciate their reflection in the mirror.
For Father’s Day: I am struck at the perceptions I keep with me as I reflect on life with my father. I remember now how he would pull the car off the road on vacation and take the time to say “Look how beautiful that tree is”. I had no idea what he was talking about. Now it is I who pull off the road. When he spoke of every man being equal he had never heard of The Tea Party or envisioned Arizona, embattled with crime, unemployment, and a housing crisis passing a law to discriminate against one ethnic group. And he loved to travel and visit people with other customs and other heritage. I didn’t know I would marry my lovely Swedish wife and she would introduce me to cultures and customs I only vaguely appreciated.
As to the wedding of the Princess: I have no feelings. But I finally grasped how we took the Kennedy’s into our hearts, how Barbara Bush taught us family values, and how I enjoy seeing President Obama’s children grow up. I cannot relate to the Princess but I value the tears of joy my wife sheds for a nostalgic connection.
Now for the mirror. I have clichéd the lies of the mirror portrayed in Cinderella for years, yet the cliché’s do not go away. Most of us would not drape a child in make-up, revealing clothes, high heels, or hair spray; nor would we cover their beautiful faces with coiffured hair, or piercings through every orifice imaginable. Yet time after time I see people do this who see something odious, something distasteful, something shameful in the mirror. Rather than enhancing their image they vilify their appearance. All of this in an attempt to be seen. To be valued. To be important to others and secondarily to themselves.
For me, we can each do ourselves a favor. Pull your hair back off your face; lose the make-up and jewelry for a day; lose the earphones, the cell phones, and the music; go for a long walk; smell the smells of nature; and be grateful that we are alive and some of God’s beautiful creatures.