Sunday, March 7, 2010

On the Wall; Off the Wall

I'm seated at a mass-manufactured writing desk in room 247 of a somewhat run-down Holiday Inn, which means that I can look up and meet my own eyes.

Whose idea was it to populate hotel rooms with mirrors? The one above the desk is gilt-framed and overlarge, positioned so that, without volition, you observe yourself making coffee, perusing the channel guide, tapping out god-knows-what on your laptop.

There's another, full-length mirror on the wall across from the toilet, surprising you into watching yourself do the things things you ought not to let anyone watch you do. And of course there's a mirror over the sink across from the bathtub, only it's less a mirror and more a wall-sized, silver screenshot of your showering self.

I find this mildly disconcerting. There are two mirrors in my house, three if you count the hand mirror I use to make sure nothing is stuck to my rear end (c.f. the Scooby-Doo sticker debacle of 2007). There's the obligatory small, square mirror over the sink in the bathroom, used to fine-tune toothbrushing, and there's the full-length mirror in the music room used to inspect posture, etc. The bedroom, living room, dining room, kitchen, and spare room are blessedly reflection-free.

Does anyone else find mirrors troubling? It's not that I hate the way I look. At 29, I've made peace with the fact that I look like...well, what I look like. And it's not that I don't think mirrors have their place: I grew up dancing, meaning I grew up struggling day after day to force my mirror-self to frappe, plie, leap.

Rather, I think my life is sufficiently examined. I can't remember where I first ran across the following truism, but I've loved it ever since: The unexamined life is not worth living, but the over-examined life is a pain in the ass.

Amen! Do we really need any more encouragement toward self-consciousness? Surely there are some moments in life -coffee making, writing, toileting- during which you should be able to stop reflecting on yourself and just be?

I'm frowning in concentration as I write this; also I appear to be biting my lip. Who ya lookin at, punk?

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