In a different time
a long ago life where bare feet tiptoed through wild forests
soft and soundless against carpets of ageless moss
we might occasionally catch a glimpse of ourselves when passing by
a still pool or lake's edge
but mostly we saw our image reflected
through the eyes of our family, our lovers, our children, our tribe.
Not so long ago
mirrors were not a household staple
and a portrait was a solemn and momentous life event.
In the fading light we stared at the rough-hewn boards of a cabin wall
as we smoothed our hair with water from a basin and hung up our hat
a rumbling stomach chased away vanity's ghost
as we sat down with family to break the evening bread.
In this day
we are surrounded by our reflection
a mirror on every wall to catch us from every angle
to hold our wrinkles and flaws in high definition
to make us linger a moment longer
We have a camera in our pocket to capture and store proof of our lives
with a click of a button we record moments instantaneously
and watch the playback, sometimes before the moment has even finished passing.
We have pages of our children looking spotlessly beautiful
books filled to bursting with neatly documented details of weddings, birthdays, graduations
sporting events, vacations, new homes,
Life's firsts, lasts and in-betweens.
With a click of a button we can broadcast these images
to hundreds or thousands of people
our friends, family, family friends, friends of friends
and total strangers
But somehow there seems to be no time anymore to look deeply into another person's eyes
to take in the smile lines, the smudges, the unspoken
the whole of a living, breathing, unedited human being.
My little girl has experimenting with self-adornment.
She engineers extravagant creations using up the entire contents of the button jar.
Placing these garlands around her neck she is like an tiny, ancient queen
but she has not once asked to look at the finished product in a mirror.
Maybe it is the satisfying weight of 57 buttons against her chest
or the reassuring sounds of wood and glass and metal clicking softly together
Maybe its the way her little brother reverently runs his fingers across the necklace,
so uncharacteristically gentle.
I picked my camera up to photograph her radiant joy and creativity
but then I set it down.
I thought, just this once, let the moment go uncaptured by shutter or screen
Instead, let her see her own beauty reflected in a mother's loving eyes.