A Naikan Episode: The Friend in the Mirror

This post was written by Viveca Monahan


For years, standing before the mirror, I have lamented my reflection. I criticized the pores, the brows, the lopsided smile. I laughed at the imperfect tooth, the chins, the unruly lock of hair. I fantasized surgery for the drooping eye lids, and liposuction for the wiggly thighs and jiggly belly. And then there are the scars from accidents and surgeries, so unappealing. If only they would just disappear. I’ve even stood by the mirror with closed eyes, praying that when they open, another image would peer back at me.

One day I looked up from washing my hands and saw in the mirror that crooked smile. We locked eyes and I said hello. Then I said thank you. Thank you for being my face in the world, the face who is recognized and loved. Thank you for the eyes that see beauty through the tears that flow freely from them. Thank you for surviving wretched loneliness, sorrow, and shame and for wrapping your strong arms around me since birth. Thank you for being loyal and kind and courageous and forgiving. I see this face, this body, these scars, and I see, in a startling new light, my rich and gifted life.

The photograph is called Harmomy by Pai Shih (2017)https://www.flickr.com/photos/pslee999/35008639051/Attribution http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/