Reflections? Reflection Walking, on the way to the same coffee shop as yesterday, I caught my reflection in a window. Catching my own eyes staring back I found an idea that might be a solution to the vanity I’ve been fighting with beards and swants (handmade ugly sweater pants). It’s a simple thought that goes to the source of the self, to cut the self from the image. I would argue that our culture saturates any understanding of self-worth primarily through the 3 dimensional profile of you, of me of anybody. It’s just an inherent understanding of how to relate to one another. None of this is new, but my simple thought was, “Avoid mirrors”. It might sound impossible because mirrors, windows, iphones and cameras are everywhere, placed because of a constant need for framing our identity with the quaint picturesque notion of heteronormativity in one way or another driven forward with each unsatisfied (Or satisfied) gaze into the pool. But thinking it through on the walk here, I want to try it and what ‘it’ comes down to, is practice. On a continent of selfies we can never escape the ‘other’, but here the ‘other’ stares out at us framed from behind glass. It’s always looking, staring back at us but our image can’t know, it can only tell. So I want to dam the one way flow of identity because I don’t want to wake up in the morning and have a good or bad day by how I think others will perceive me. I want my deep relationships, and my relationship with God to be the thing that gives me value. Well I guess, ultimately only God, but people should see Christ through my relationships… not features or fashion. In our relationships, it is impossible not to reveal our desires and the loves of our lives. So what avoiding mirrors actually comes down to is the practice of reshaping my desires. Our lives are crafted and shaped by our practice because our practices create our desires. As many people much smarter than I have pointed out, we are not primarily thinking beings, we are beings of desire. What we love we will naturally follow because irrefutably we only do what we choose. We don’t do anything that we don’t choose to do because how else could we commit an action? Therefore our practices shape our desire and the things that become innately intertwined with life don’t show what is natural, but what we’ve become accustomed to. For example, take what advertisement has done to the human image. Advertisement has erected a cult to the human body that has set up Asherah poles in every bedroom, bathroom and cellphone. Any place that provides a place of reflection and worship to the god of the body. In Peter’s “You must change your life” (a Nietzschean title), he says that we’re going back (if going back is possible) to the Greek aesthetic of worshipping the body. Where the heroes, warriors and athletes are worshipped as demi-gods because quite simply, they are better. It’s a naturally simple understanding that we should desire to be them. But when I look at them, I see slaves. Slaves with chains wrapped around every crafted muscle and around every manicured feature because they’ve squeezed their identity into something as shallow as the surface of their skin and they are denying death. A joke. What’s worse than a vomitorium? A gym. At least they didn’t worship their vomit. Both institutions serve the same purpose. To purge the excess of what our culture provides to be taken. The excess food and energy must be expelled and so we’ve chosen the aesthetic approach of hard work and treadmill’s while condemning the rapid purging. I don’t really see a difference. So if I can learn to ignore the identity that culture is constantly mirroring to me, my hope is that the practice will lessen the desire to be. To be beautiful and more beautiful. I want to be free of chains so that I can find peace in Father. So starting now with you as a postscript witness, I will learn and you’ll be there (not here) to see what happens….
by Andrew Westerback