Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflections, or Through the Looking Glass?

The year end and the New Year are like a two-sided mirror, and I stand in front of it. In one side I see my own reflection,  to see the other side I have to step through the looking glass. The decision is mine, do I continue to look at a reflection of the familiar, or take a leap of faith and step through to a new world?

What’s on the other side? Maybe it is just more of the same, but it could be a strange new world where nothing is familiar. It could mean that someone raised the stakes when I wasn’t looking, or it could be a wondrous land unlike anything I’ve ever known. Either way, through the looking glass means excitement and adventure—the reflection is security and safety.

But does the mirror reflect only the familiar? I’m reminded of an exercise in my Train the Trainer: Building Creative Caregivers workbook. The "Mirror Exercise" is designed to sensitize participants to how hard it is for a person with dementia do perform simple tasks.
The Mirror Exercise (from Building Creative Caregivers):

• You need a hand mirror, pen and paper
• Hold the pen in one hand and the mirror in the other, reflecting side out slightly above your shoulder
• Locate your hand and pen in the mirror
• Looking only in the mirror, draw a house on the paper
• After you draw your picture write your name on the paper

Try the exercise and you learn that sometimes you are in unfamiliar territory even when you don’t take a chance. The reflection may not be as safe as stepping through the looking glass.

Life changes and evolves every day. Sometimes the changes are internal as we struggle with meeting our daily emotional needs. We face external changes as we wake up each day to find our world has changed. Sometimes the changes are upheavals—the test results came back positive, a loved one passes away, a home is destroyed by fire or tornado; while other changes are subtle—another gray hair, bad dreams, indigestion, gained another two pounds.

The only thing we can really count on is that today will not be exactly like yesterday or the same as tomorrow. We cannot stand still while everything moves around us. Instead, we are swept along life’s journey at breakneck speed.

So back to the original question—look at the reflection or step through the looking glass? Maybe it doesn’t make any difference. It depends on what we see in the reflection and whether we can look at it from a little different perspective to keep it interesting.

If I step through the looking glass, the world may change drastically—for better or worse. If my choice is through the looking glass, I must be sure the entire goal is not to find my way back. This choice doesn’t have to be made on New Year’s Day, it needs to be made when the time is right. I’ve stepped through the looking glass before, and when I can do it without regrets, I’ll step through it again. For now, I’m happy looking at the reflection in a different way. That’s enough excitement and adventure for me.

Copyright © December 2010 L. S. Fisher
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