Mirrors and Mosaics

Self-Portrait in Tessellation

I never see myself but in the smallest part,

all others quite obscured by my beliefs,

incessant shadows of my little griefs

and the convictions of this moment’s heart–

in tiny pieces shaped by this day’s faith,

see this week’s angle; my fragmented soul

seen but in shards, not as a whole:

instead of spirit, as an empty wraith–

I hope that I will someday finally see

this whole chaotic multitude in view,

convened, a coalescent scene anew,

those fine mosaic atoms that are Me

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Where do we seek for the patterns of ourselves?

Truthfully, I hope never to get the full view of myself–that seems to me something to be experienced only at the very end of life, and as the old story goes, I’m not eagerly “gettin’ up a busload to go today”. Let’s hope the afterlife can wait for me a goodish bit yet. But it’s sometimes edifying to view myself with a modicum of dispassion, a fair step back from the funhouse mirror where I tend to see myself with automatic criticism, for good or ill, and not with honest clarity and fairness.

Ms. CF, that sage lady over at cfbookchick, posted a marvelous piece that should encourage us all to look inward and see whether we’re not a little overzealous in measuring and judging self and others. As she says, “self doubt is a terrible monster,” and it’s frighteningly easy to be caught up in obsessive condemnation of our own failures or shortcomings as well as those we paint on others. Few truly sharp universal definitions of standards and requirements exist to tell us just who, how or what anyone ought to be, so we tend to invent our own more than we’ll readily admit, and so, being judge and jury by default in our own courts–well, it’s easy to take prisoners and not so easy to ever show quite as much mercy as we should. When is it time to let go of all the old baggage, or at least put it away in long-term storage, and forgive ourselves and others?

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We’re all looking for patterns, for clues . . .

I May be Getting the Hang of It

Tumbling on fifty-one years

Of joy and quiet wonder, fears,

Of curiosity and laughs,

Of writing songs and epitaphs,

I think Iā€™m finding here at last

Direction from each annum past

To lead me forward to explore

At least another fifty more

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See, whatever the current state of the union-or-disunion in my being, I’m in a mighty happy spot in life these days. Getting my blogging groove on bit by bit and learning along the way. Surrounded by standouts who take me under their measureless wings and fly me around at irresistibly dizzying height just as though I actually belonged there, and are teaching me how to flap my own flimsy excuse for a set of wings. Clumsy I may be, but having a high old time and loving the exhilarating and weird sensation of the familiar earth being transmuted into something quite new, sometimes shocking, and decidedly intriguing. And people keep popping over to my aerie to drop prizes and presents into my humble and shaggy version of a nest. I’m running out of mantel space in the ol’ nest, and getting quite the kick out of the whole thing, thank you very much. Lately I’ve had another set of trophies and treasures conferred upon me by fellow sojourners in the Merry Old Land of Blog to the degree that instead of falling out of the nest in self-abnegation I’m more likely to be overinflated and drift off in my helium-fillled happiness, giving a queenly wave as I float over thanking the Little People who helped me feel like the grand success I am today.

My more honest self, however, weighs it all in the balance and says that I am simply most fortunate to have these new digs in bloggerville and thus be surrounded by such great neighbors–wiser, more experienced, and incredibly generous souls who raise me up to their natural locations in the heights. Today I am especially cognizant of the gifts shared with us all, and me in particular, with me by two fine exemplars of this communal outreach through art and kind critical support.

I am grateful to dear Geraldine, the Alternative Poet, for granting me the Versatile Blogger Award. Her passion for and championing of contemporary poetry that puts up no walls of opacity in front of readers but rather invites us in with magical and graceful turns of phrase able instead to allow us clearer views through an artful and inspired window is a great gift in itself. She shares not only her own lovely work with us but the safe haven in which the rest of us are encouraged to be our best selves in this vein. I am grateful, too, to dear ‘Nessa, who is inclined to open veins while writing from her Stronghold that sometimes seem to me to put her at fearful personal risk, but does so with such mature passion that it’s compelling even when frightening–all the while offering astonishingly tireless words of kindness and endorsement to the rest of us. None have better deserved the designation Liebster [Beloved] in blogging, and yet here she is handing it along to others, including me.

Yes indeedy, I can still see that oddly, eccentrically fragmented and distorted self-image of mine, but I really don’t dislike or fear it anymore. It’s just one part of who I am, more relevant in explaining my exceedingly long and poky version of Overnight Success than anything frightfully du jour, so I’ll just let it hang around there, cracked mirror that it is, incomplete and insignificant in the grand scheme of my present day. Which is where I prefer to live, relegating my past to the past, my grudges and demons and failures Most Embarrassing Moments and any other unresolved or unresolvable junk to less accessible and current places, and just plain get on with things. Take that, not-so-Fun-house mirror! I have better things to do with my days, and am already having too nice a life, whether it’s deserved or not, to be bothered hanging around in dusty corners staring at what I don’t much care to be anyhow. Toodle-oo! Find yourself somebody else to gnaw at, begone and good riddance! I’m headed back into the sunshine to play!

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20 thoughts on “Mirrors and Mosaics

  1. Please accept my most heartiest congratulations upon receiving the much deserved award! You have one of the best blogs I have ever visited! It is always, always a pleasure to read your posts and positively drool over your beautiful paintings/sketches/photographs.

    I was just over at cfbookchick and her post really got me thinking too. Its a powerful piece of writing. So is your poem! They are making me take a hard look at myself. But like you, I would rather see the different facets than the whole picture. Definitely makes it more interesting. šŸ™‚

    • Yes, you’re right–seeing ourselves always in the same way is boring and unproductive. I used to tell my art students when they were having a hard time looking at their own work-in-progress objectively enough that if they couldn’t seem to detach and get a “new” view mentally, then they could force it by doing something simple or silly physically. Stand on your head in front of the artwork (mirror); leave the room for a couple of minutes and then RUN back in, looking for the art (your reflection); look at it (yourself) by flashlight or candlelight. It all seems a little ridiculous at times, but it’s amazing how hard it is to see ourselves any way other than as we’ve gotten used to doing it.

  2. I do judge myself too harshly. Funny isn’t it, that every major spiritual teacher has taught the importance of forgiveness, and it is STILL the thing we are the worst at doing, both personally and as a society.

    • Exactly so! I suppose that’s *why* all of our gods and gurus *have* to address the same old issue: because we never seem to learn! Old *dogs* are infinitely better at learning new tricks than people are!!

  3. An award winning blog. Sometimes i get a glimpse of how other people see me. They do not see parts they only see what they perceive to be ME as a total person. Sometimes it is not good.. back to the burrow! c

    • Sometimes I think others *do* see us, if not more accurately, then at least with less built-in baggage and prejudice than our inner critics allow. But then all of us are prone to making erroneous snap judgements of others, too. So I’m never quite sure where the fulcrum lies in that balance. What I *do* feel is that we owe it to ourselves and those who care about us to try to be *fair* in our self-assessment and not go around dressed in the ol’ hair shirt excessively. Masochism should only be used judiciously by experts for entertainment purposes! šŸ˜‰ Me, I am SO not interested in self-flagellation, real or hypothetical. šŸ™‚

      You, my dearest, are so specially luminous and multifaceted that I am quite certain no one, including you, could ever encompass all of who you are in one go.

  4. from the bottom of my heart, me and my family would like to congratulate you. you deserve it. keep it up. Cant wait to read more and see all your awesome photo’s………

  5. Congratulations Kathryn, these awards could not have gone to a more worthy recipient…I really loved “I May be getting the hang of it”…wonderful piece šŸ˜Š

    • I sense that you feel that same comfort with where you are in this life, my dear! Another half-century this good sounds kind of inviting to this young-old lady at the moment. šŸ˜‰

  6. Congratulations Kathryn! I must get over here more. Your writing, your artwork is so special and lovely. And I really appreciate the interesting and engaging comments you leave on my site. Thank you for sharing and blessings for the New Year!

  7. I think it is what keeps us from becoming who and what we are intended to be, this inability to grant ourselves that thing we are so much more inclined to give to others, forgiveness. If we allow, precious time is wasted while we ruminate over things best forgotten. Life is too short. Show yourself some of the same love we so freely give to others.

    Congratulations, Kathryn, on these much-deserved awards and, by the way, I tagged you for the !0 Question Quiz because inquiring minds want to know …

    • Why, you scamp you! (Hmm, I wonder why I almost wrote Scampi when addressing you! Though it would be thoroughly inappropriate for someone as un-shellfish as you are! Oh, I did NOT just say that.)

      Thank you for the tag, and I shall endeavor to make good on the Quiz mastering shortly. Be careful what you ask for, my friend!

      Yes, aren’t we all wonderfully obtuse in realizing that it’s just as important to treat our own selves with kindness and fairness and compassion as it is others–after all, if we can’t do it for our own sakes, at least we should remember that those others are affected by our state of well-being too.

  8. Such fine words of joy and encouragement, said with pluck and wit. There really is no time for mucking about in the cellar of doubt when the sun is shining and we can go out and play.

  9. It’s not quite the same thing as trying to see yourself fully or clearly but, while I was reading the first poem, I was reminded of Bob Dylan (at least I think it was him) who said something like: “I wake one man and I go to bed as someone else.”

    • And Heraclitus put it: “You cannot step into the same river twice, for fresh waters are ever flowing in upon you.” Change is our only constant, and those of us fortunate enough to take advantage of that in any way may have a little more active participation in directing our own destinies and what we get to see in our mirrors. Just maybe! šŸ™‚

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