Staring might be the thing I’m best at.
If I’m honest.
Give me a good view, a window to perch at, a stormy sea, a field of grass with the wind moving it like a marching band or a murmuration of starlings, and I will stare.
There’s something soothing about a good, long stare.
My nervous system mellows out, I connect deeply with whatever I’m staring at.
If staring were an Olympic sport, I would be in the running.
The other day I was sitting on the front stoop staring at my little boulder garden pond/puddle thing.
It was full of spring water, near overflowing.
And it was reflecting a mountain laurel branch just perfectly.
It was uncanny, a mirror image.
But then a breeze came up and rippled the water, obscuring the reflection.
For a second it was just a muddle of greens and browns and the white of the flowers.
The the air stilled again.
And so did the puddle.
And that mirror image came back.
This happened over and over. (And since I was staring, I saw it all).
And I thought (of course this is what I thought), how much I related to that mountain laurel branch.
Sometimes when I catch my reflection, I see myself so clearly. Every inch, every leaf and flower.
But other times all I see is a muddled mess.
And it feels confusing.
That’s because relying on a reflected sense of self rather than an authentic sense of self is a bad plan.
I mean, that mountain laurel branch wasn’t shape shifting. But it’s reflection was.
Being in a reflective culture, built these days on “likes” and “followers” and comments and blah blah blah, it’s easy to lose a sense of self.
It’s easy to look out and see that muddled mess.
Or rely too heavily on those who are good at holding still and reflecting accurately (that’s a skill we learn with The Priestess archetype).
I remember the old Pavillion amusement park at Myrtle Beach, back when they had those funhouse mirrors.
Some mirrors made me look tall and stretched out, other made me look short and smooshed.
And this is how being around people can feel, or having a sense self reflected through something like social media.
Not. Fucking. Accurate.
So if someone is like you’re the worst, and someone else is like you’re the best, I’m no more changed by those proclamations than that mountain laurel branch was changed by the wind moving the water.
You’ve no doubt heard Know Thyself?
Well, it’s a thing.
This is how we step into sacred space– by knowing ourselves.
This is when we’ll have the best chats with The Mystery–when we’re speaking as our true selves.
And if we wanna invite The Tantrika archetype to the party, we can know ourselves based upon what we pull toward us.
A red flower blooming in broad daylight will pull a different pollinator to it than a white flower blooming at night.
Look at the pollinators, and you’ll know a lot about the flower.
Nocturnal moths with hella sense of smell all over you? Ten bucks you’re a white flower blooming at night.
Hummingbirds swarming you? Ten bucks you’re a red flower blooming during the day.
So, what’s around you?
And who’s around you?
There’s some accuracy there.
Do you like what’s around you? Great, you’ve probably been working hard year after year sculpting your life. You’re brave enough to bloom and let the pollinators find you.
Bummed and disappointed about what you got goin’ on? Well, time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Maybe you’re not even blooming in the first place (nothing can find you).
Somewhere in between? Yeah, join the club.
Anyway, back to the puddle.
My point is, reflections — the opinions of others (likes, follows, stars, whatever)– can only tell you so much.
At best it gives you a bit of a palette, like the muddle of greens and browns and whites reflecting the mountain laurel when the wind blew.
But it’s not accurate. Or reliable. Or consistent.
You can’t base anything on reflection, you can’t sink a root down into it because there’s no actual substance.
The best thing to do is Know Thyself.
It’s a thing.