* "Chew on This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder" is a book of inspirational short stories by Gary Brock and Kelly Tuck, and is available for purchase here!
*Words of wisdom for inspirational thought are at the end of the story!
“Most of us mirror what the world mirrors to us, so the challenge becomes viewing the events of the world from the ‘inside out’ instead of being informed about these events from the ‘outside in.’ Through doing so, you involuntarily ask yourself the following question: are we who we tell ourselves we are, or are we who others tell us we are? You are the only one who can decide.”
Guru Garysheema paused, gazing out at the conference attendees filling the room. “Who are you? Who am I? The answer is simple. We, as human beings, are the sum of our individual choices. We are what we fill ourselves with, which includes our choices, our environment, and our senses. Who we are is a result of decisions and choices we make in our relationship with ourselves, with others, and in response to events either within or outside of our control.”
He held up an ornate mirror. “When I look in this mirror, I am reminded of the age old rhyme that goes, ‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?’ The mirror, of course, reflects back the perceived image of the one asking the question, so the one asking the question is the ‘fairest of them all.’ Maybe a better question would be, ‘Mirror, mirror, that I see, can you tell who is me?’ That is a question that may not be so easily answered by the person we see reflected in the mirror.”
“Mirrors take many forms,” he continued. “Truly, everyone and everything becomes a mirror as they reflect information about ourselves back to us in some form or fashion. This helps us to understand and actually experience different aspects that makes us who we are. Essentially, every single thing that we come into contact with becomes a mirror whether it pays attention to us or not. Why? Well, whether we do see or don’t see an action or reaction, we receive information about ourselves through what we observe from the mirrors in our daily lives. Amazingly, it is our perception of the mirror’s action or reaction that tells us very specific information about who we really are.”
“How we perceive the personal intersections of each day is how our identity is created and constructed. Further, our perceptions were created by observing previous actions and reactions, and so on and so forth. Even more interesting is that we create our identity based on our perception of how another entity perceives us, which may or may not be accurate or honestly revealed to us by that entity.”
“The old ‘mirror, mirror on the wall’ is so much simpler than the new ‘mirror, mirror on the wall,’ however, the new rhyme is much more real...” He smiled slowly. “Or is it? Your purpose for today is to discover the answer for yourself.”
Guru Garysheema soon instructed everyone to rise from their seats and make an orderly line to enter the Hall of Mirrors. “As you walk through this guided tour, you will see yourself in many shapes and forms. As you approach each mirror, please take several minutes to concentrate on your image while you listen to the thoughts that are being presented. Remember today’s purpose: are you who the mirror says you are, or are you who you say you are? Hopefully when you exit you will have a better understanding of just who you are, if not, possibly who you want to be. Let us begin.” The guru waved his hand for the first in line to begin walking through the Hall of Mirrors.
Wow, I thought to myself as I passed through the hall’s threshold, this is a lot to digest. Talk about peeling back the onion. That guru always makes us think, which is why I really like coming to his seminars. He doesn’t tell us anything specifically; he just presents and lets us figure it out for ourselves.
The guru’s voice interrupted my thoughts, “Take it from the top and see where it leads your mind.”
As I approached the first mirror, I noticed just how elongated my image was. A chuckle immediately sounded in my throat. I was a funny looking dude. A recording of Guru Garysheema began to play.
“Are you as tall as the mirror is reflecting back at you? You see, you must be careful how you think. Your life is shaped by your thoughts. If others say this and that about you, does it necessarily make it so? Just as the reflected elongated image does not make it so. Do you let others tell you who you are instead of telling yourself who you are? Who are you listening to - your own inner voice or someone else’s voice? When you look in this mirror, does your inner voice say, ‘that is not you,’ and if so, do you believe it? Who is whispering in your ears?”
Do I let people tell me who I am? I question myself.
Stepping in front of the next mirror, I noticed just how wide my image was. Whew! I probably need to start doing some “push backs” to get that under control. Shaking my head slightly, I looked again. Wait a minute, my reflection is distorted by the mirror.
“Does your image look strange to you? Why does your image look distorted? Oh yes, because the mirror you are gazing into is distorted. Does society reflect back to you a distortion of who you are because society is distorted? Who is really distorted — you or society?”
Closing my eyes for a moment, my mind began to race. You know, that is so right. How many times have I conformed to what society or my environment said I should be, but I didn’t agree with? I’ve never looked at it this way before. I really need to consider the source.
As my image filled the next mirror, all I saw was a jagged, broken reflection of myself. “There are many, many examples in history where individuals were true to themselves and followed the calling of a higher source. They did not reflect back what society said to them, they stayed true to themselves. Think about this. Whose voice did Jesus listen to? The religious leaders? His followers? Satan? Consider the Buddha. Whose voice did he listen to? The elitists? His followers? Mara, the Tempter? Whose voice did Joan of Arc listen to? If she had listened to her community, the leaders, the church, or the enemy, would she have inspired an entire nation? She lived true to her words, ‘I am not afraid, I was born to do this.’ Jesus, Buddha, and Joan of Arc chose to remain true to their inner voices, and because of that made a great impact on the world through actions they knew to be right and true, even if it didn’t fit into society’s norm.”
My jaw was on the ground. The guru is hitting me right between the eyes. How many times have I given up on something by listening to the outside voices instead of my inside voice?
The next mirror was glamorizing. Wow, this mirror makes me look like a million bucks! “Be true to yourself, my friends. Neither be deceived by others or by yourself. Be real. Be you. Be transparent. Do not project something that you are not. Most importantly, see yourself for who you are — the good with the bad — for only when we see ourselves honestly can we continue to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.” How many times have I tried to fool myself? Most of the time, I am a realist, but I know for a fact there are times when I see myself not as I truly am. I definitely need to work on that.
The next mirror was opaque and didn’t reflect an image. “When a child is born, the baby is a sponge that absorbs the external stimuli created by the family unit and caregiver. The baby is helpless and is dependent on others for everything — food, shelter, clothing, cleaning, and love. The baby will ultimately be shaped by the positive and negative reinforcement experienced by the senses from its environment. As a child develops, the environments experienced by the child become the potter’s hands to the clay. This means the personality of the human becomes a combination of self and their action and reaction to others. The personality mirrors all that it has been exposed to in its own unique style, whether positive or negative.”
“This process is an endless cycle that forms preferences, aversions, and instinctual responses to stimuli. Your environment tells you who you are. If you are a conformist, you reflect those qualities. If you are a nonconformist, you reflect those qualities. Who you choose to surround yourself with also tells who you are. Birds of a feather do flock together and serve as a mirror for each other. This tells us that we must know the environment and people we are listening to, and we must ask ourselves is it the environment and people we want to listen to? Or maybe need to listen to? Think about someone seeing you from their perspective; it is possible each of us are more widely known more through other people’s eyes than we realize. You must understand that what you see in front of you is how you start, a blank mirror, a clear slate, no reflection. You have become the sum of what your environment and others say you are. Are you in agreement with that? Are you who you say you are, or are you who they say you are?”
That is a whole lot to digest. My head is so full of thoughts it could burst! What a very hard question... Am I who I say I am? Gee, I actually don’t know.
The last mirror was covered with a cloth. “Uncover the mirror and look at the reflection.” Reaching out, I gently removed the thin cloth to stare directly into my own eyes. “That is you. Wave to yourself. Smile at yourself. Say to yourself, ‘I love you.’ Stand up straight. Turn around and view yourself from this side, from that side, and from behind. That is you. You deserve your own love and affection. That is so powerful.”
“Are you who you want to be? That is up to you and the person staring back at you in the mirror. It has been said that the greatest possessions are taking full ownership of your mind and to know yourself completely — attributes and flaws. I encourage you to get lost in yourself so that you may end up finding yourself. We look into ourselves to discover something that can only be experienced outside of ourselves. We cannot have one without the other, but each of us decides on the reality of both. Dr. Seuss once wrote, ‘Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you.’ Be yourself. After all, who else is better qualified to be you?”
Wow! How sobering! I thought, continuing to gaze at myself in the mirror. I’ve never really just looked at myself. If my life was a film and I could step out of myself and watch the film, is it one that I’d want to see? Is it a film that I would watch the entire way through? Would I give it a standing ovation at the end? Much to ponder.
As I made my way out of the Hall of Mirrors, I could see there was one final mirror above the exit. It was positioned at an angle to reflect the individual walking out. Words written underneath the mirror read...
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Be yourself. Be an original.
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*Chew On This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder is available for purchase here!