Self Refraction

Self reflection doesn’t cut it.

We look at ourselves in the mirror every day and we’re none the wiser come bedtime. If anything staring at yourself only leads you to doubt and/or cherish everything about your life. It’s too much. It’s too broad and it avoids confrontation. The problem with reflection is that the process can only show us what we bring to it. When I’m feeling vain, I see my face aging. When I’m feeling slighted at work, I will see the reflection of a victim.

That’s not helpful and it leads to “venting” and “self pity.”

Our goal should be to see ourselves for who we are in that moment, and in that context. From both the best seats in the house and from the cheap seats in the nosebleeds.

Instead of unloading grief upon those we love and forcing them into a series of perfunctory head nods, we should try to attack problems at the source. I tend to ask myself the hard questions when I’m in the thick of it, not later when the emotions have cooled and hardened. When I catch myself bitching to a co-worker about some perceived slight, I laugh at myself. I laugh at myself like an arrogant alien overlord visiting this primitive earth.

“Foolish human! Thinking your problems are significant.”

I often find that when I take a moment to see myself in this way, I can only shrug my shoulders.

It all comes down to this screaming litany:

Why the fuck did I care about that?
Why the fuck did I say that?
Who the fuck am I trying to impress?
What the fuck will that matter tomorrow?

The answers will be fairly obvious:

For no reason.
Because I needed to fill the silence with sound.
It won’t because it doesn’t even matter now.

I can sum myself up like so — I need people. I need social interaction. I need to feel clever and loved. I need to love others. I need to feel necessary to the on going drama of the universe. These are my basic truths. Where things get confusing is when I mistakenly seek to have these needs met by people I don’t care about, love or respect. I think there are many of you out there playing the same fool’s game.

We don’t have to.

Take a look at your life from outside the aquarium and you’ll see just how distorted your behavior really is. If we just do our thing and stop trying to win we’ll find there really was no game at all. I’m not saying I’m going to withdraw and move to the mountains. I’m saying I’m already there, and here, and everywhere I want to be.