Living Larger than Life

mag-mirrorby Lee Ann “Sunny” Brown       


After reaching the half-century mark, I decided that maybe it was time for me to embrace the whole idea of living “larger than life.” The time had come to face up to the facts that things are changing and I could no longer turn a blind eye to them. I mean, you can only poke yourself in the eye so many times. I don’t think I was fooling myself or anybody else for that matter. I was really just avoiding having to face change, even though that was impossible. The face was changing, that much was clear, even if I couldn’t see it. Things were starting to appear fuzzy, and I realized that it wasn’t just because of my eyesight. I could actually feel something there, too. I will tell you though, that I did not decide to do this on a whim; it wasn’t just some spur of the moment decision. I had actually been contemplating it for some time, as I began to have a creeping feeling that I was missing out on some of the finer things that were happening in life. I started to feel that I wasn’t seeing the real me. Or at least I wasn’t seeing all of me. It was time to grow up and take a closer look at all that I had been missing. 

When you commit to living large, you will discover things about yourself that you never knew were there. Some of it can be pretty frightening. It takes courage to embrace this way of living. There is a great deal of risk involved, including your self-esteem and even your very sense of identity. Everything is magnified, the good, the bad, and the ugly. It can shake your confidence and cause a lot of self-doubt. But, in the end, you learn what you’re made of when you are forced to confront the truth about yourself. I had to be willing to let go of the old ways and face the truth.

So I have had an 8x magnifying mirror installed at my bathroom vanity. I do not recommend this for anyone who would rather not face the truth about aging. It is a complete shock to your system the first time you see yourself this close-up. I was not ready for my close-up. If my aging eyes were playing tricks on me, well, that was nothing compared to the trick my mirror was now playing on me. It sent me into a full-blown identity crisis. As soon as I took one glance in the magnifying mirror, my whole life, it seemed, flashed right before my eyes, just like how they say it happens when you die and then come back to life. Without a warning of any kind, it revealed in great detail not only my age and how long it had been since I had last had a facial, but also how long since I’d had my hair done, how long I was growing my hair (including the ones on my face), how long I have been married, how many kids I have, how many pets I have, how overdue my library books are, and, of course, it revealed my weight.

It’s unnerving, really. It’s such a shock when you come face-to-face with your identity, realizing that everything you thought about yourself, how you see yourself, is all made up—not on your face, but in your own mind. The mirror has a way of revealing the larger truth. Or is it the hidden truth? Or is there any truth at all? Maybe it’s all just a slight of hand magic trick, all light and mirrors. Mirrors have always been used to perform trickery and make things appear, or disappear, to great effect.

I decided that the mirror doesn’t always really tell the truth; not the whole truth, anyway. Mirrors can lie, and clearly, mine was betraying me, much worse than my eyes had been. Now it was just a matter of which lie to believe. I would prefer to believe whatever is most bene-facial to me. I realized that living large was going to be all about keeping up appearances. I had to decide if I was willing to embrace the work that it requires. I was a little uncertain about the commitment it might require to do this. I found it definitely involves a lot of self-reflection.

Owning an 8x magnifying mirror, and looking into it, is not for the faint of heart; in fact, the only thing faint about it is how it knocks the breath out of you and sends you crashing to the floor. I think the people who have had a near death experience really just saw themselves in a magnifying mirror for the first time.

When I came back to life, after the shock began to wear off and I was able to catch my breath again, I was different. I was a stronger person. I had confronted the enemy, close up and face-to-face, and lived. I was ready to embrace my larger-than-life self. I’m ready for my close-up. And if it all becomes too much to “bare,” I’ll just let my mustache grow back in.

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