I returned from a difficult morning run and walked the neighborhood searching my brain for the department in charge of breathing. Eventually, after the wheezing subsided, I heard a strange shuffle-pop sound on repeat, which turned out to be a little bird perched on the passenger side mirror of a neighbor’s car having a little showdown with itself. It was a good fight, but my best estimate was that it was headed for a draw.
It cracked me up, the stupid little bird ignorant that the enemy in the stare-down was simply his/her/its own reflection. I admired the courage, what with the sudden beak attacks that were magically matched beak-on-beak, but repeatedly charging face-first into a piece of glass was pretty funny.
Until, that is, it occurred to me that in a sense I am that stupid little bird. The absolute biggest threat to my survival is that joker staring back at me in the mirror, and although (most days) I don’t slam my face repeatedly in the mirror, it is true that no one attacks me more than me.
An honest look in the mirror, sizing oneself up, noticing flaws and so on, seems not only healthy but also necessary to effect any real, lasting change. Beating yourself up, on the other hand, makes about as much sense as that goofy bird repeatedly catapulting itself into a mirror.