People seem to admire in others traits that they already prize in themselves. If I get my hair shorn or permed, the short-haired ladies will praise the butchering and the curly-headed will admire the frizz. People who rave over purple clothing often wear it. If you like the same foods, books, music, or recreational habits as me, you must be a wonderful person. This goes to the heart: I have enormous affection and respect for my fellow writers. If you care for an aging parent, or work as a professional caregiver, you’re in my mirror, even on the days when we’re too overwhelmed to notice those shiny glimpses of one another. “I’m so tired, my blood feels like it’s full of lead,” said one of my nursing aide friends recently. Oh, honey, you dance on magic feet, on my mind’s bright stage.
The musician Hozier has a great line – honey, you’re familiar, like my mirror, years ago. That’s what we crave. We can build a powerful idea of someone from the air they pass through. Electing strange perfections in any stranger I choose… Hozier’s poetry also speaks of being freshly disowned, in some frozen devotion. Nothing less than my hard-won maturity gives me a clean window view of Andrew Hozier-Byrne. 6’5”, Irish, 25 years old. I love the music, the voice, the words, but this musician-boy isn’t real in my world. The fuzzy glow in the mirror is nostalgia — forty years ago, I found men of 25 alluringly mature. Another blurry shape on that silvery glass, me, already thirty-six when this sweet Irish baby was born. Yet, here I am, reflecting this artist’s bright light, adding shadows to the walls of the cave.
I’m so happy in my cave lately. Anais Nin (1902-1977) has returned. I pick up her diary at age 53, when I was a baby. Anais mirrors Hozier; I hang between them, cradled in looking-glass infinity. Anais Nin: “My image of others has gone through a thousand transformations, from idealization to total rejection, to re-creation and rescue of a totally new self… The theme of images. How one must struggle against this creation and invention of others, to listen to them attentively, let them state their own case, weigh and balance the impressions. Otherwise this invention takes over, or projection. We are like sculptors, constantly carving out of others the image we long for, need, love, or desire….“
Opening Ms Nin’s 1955 diary, I wanted her to guide me through my confusing crone life. She begins: “After my experience with LSD…” I laughed so hard, never imagining that opening, nor her useful advice. She couldn’t write for a long time, Anais says. Her account of post-LSD weariness persuades me to postpone my own curiosity indefinitely. I appreciate good advice — a seasoned writer friend once called Twitter “a cloud of mosquitos,” and gratefully, I remain untweeted, unbitten. We tried the world, good God, it wasn’t for us. In my mirrors, Hozier sings, Anais dances. I listen, glowing with gratitude.