ok, though, mirrors are worse. it's nearly impossible not to look at oneself in a mirror that's within view. am i looking good? bad? do i have something in my teeth? is my fly unzipped? is somebody watching me watch myself in the mirror? it's a big problem. humans are drawn to mirrors like flies to ...
my favorite preacher on the radio, alistair begg, recently said "the value of the mirror is not narcissism so that we can congratulate ourselves, the value of the mirror is in order for us to see our predicament and do what we can to fix it." well, in a restaurant, beyond fixing a hair that's out of place or an unzipped zipper, we're faced with either narcissism or seeing our predicament. it always looks to others like narcissism, trust me. but to me, unless i happen to be in some place where i can compare myself favorably to the others in the mirror, i'm faced with a predicament, and that predicament isn't going to be helped by eating in that restaurant. i'm overweight, slouching toward obese. i'd like to be thinner. maybe they should put skinny mirrors in restaurants as they allegedly do in clothing store dressing rooms. then narcissism could at least have a turn. as it is, the mirror that i can't help but look at is showing me this guy looking back who's not the guy i picture in my mind's eye. and i hate the mirror for that. for showing the truth.
my wife recently gave a great statement - "our bodies are older than our minds are willing to admit". ouch. what happened to "you're as young as you feel?"
in the bible in 2 corinthians 10:12, paul says "we do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise." so really a mirror is just a way to compare ourselves with ourselves of the past or some other "themselves" who are svelte and fit and look great. we are not to do that. sure, we are to see our predicament and look for a way out of it, whether it be physical or spiritual.
but the real fault is not with the mirror or the restaurant, they are just players. the fault is that i, like many of us, spend too much time, whether in front of a mirror or not, looking at myself. not in aristotle's "an unexamined life is not worth living" way, but in a "what about me?" "why me?" "what am i going to do?" "what do they think of me?" "what can i do to make them like me/love me/keep coming to me/keep working for me/keep paying me/keep being my friend?" way. those things are not for me to consider regularly. sure, a brief check in the mirror is fine, but to get lost in it considering the person in it is wrong. we are called to consider others more than ourselves. humility is not thinking less of oneself, it is not thinking of oneself. what a goal! in 2kings there's a king named hezekiah and he shows off his "stuff" - all the treasures of judah and the temple - to some people, in a "look at me and what i've got" way. God wasn't happy with that and so isaiah (i think it was him) told him that he would be punished and that the punishment was that his children and his children's children, yada yada, would never be kings and would suffer all kinds of stuff and the country was going down after he was gone. his response? "but nothing's going to happen to ME?" we are hezekiah, or at least i am. more concerned about us and now and what i've got or don't have than about my ancestors and neighbors and those around me every day at work or school or wherever and what my actions and words do to them or for them beyond what they get me and to heck with the budget deficit and the environment and social security and medicare and world hunger and the war in wherever and my church and my pastor and the lady who's ministering to inner city kids and my friends who are in pain from divorce or their kids and the effects on them and ... i can't go on. i feel like the teenage girl in boulder, colorado, from early in my practice when "mall bangs" were all the rage and cans of hair spray were used daily and 'green' boulder began to broadcast the depleted ozone message and the effects of aerosol cans and global warming and all that when it was new and news and her response was "to heck with the ozone, i've got to have my bangs!" ouch.