Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Epiphany

I'm a standin' on a corner
Somewhere in Arizona
And such a fright'nin' sight I see.
There's an old man there
With snow white hair
In a window looking back at me.
-- with apologies to the Eagles

There I was, waiting to cross the street in the middle of an Arizona afternoon and I find myself staring back at me from the window on the other side. Coming face to face with yourself is jarring, especially if you're not expecting it, and more especially if the reflection fails to match the image of yourself you hold in your mind.

Talk about cognitive dissonance! 

In the reflection, I see a white haired old timer with a tired expression and sizable paunch rather that the trim, alert and energetic middle aged gentleman I know myself to be. Neither does the reflection match the image of any of the many former selves I carry with me. 

Only my inner eye can discern the skinny seventeen year old farm boy, yet that boy is there.

Only my inner eye sees the proud 21 year old with his new bride, yet that young man is there too. 

All of them are there: the idealistic military officer, the dashing helicopter pilot, the father watching children grow from infants to toddlers, through grade school, preteen, high school, and college years to become responsible productive adult members of society.

The engineering professional is there, as is the proud grand father, and many others.

None of these past selves is evident in the current reflection. All are behind it, each having played an essential part in building the person represented by the image.

The image in the window? Momentarily jarring, ultimately unimportant.

What I do with the image? Thought provoking and totally important.

I can either conform my actions to the image and become as I appear, an old man quietly going to seed. Or I can challenge the image and boldly engage new knowledge and experiences, have adventures, and live above and beyond the expectations of society.

I know my choice.

How about you?

Have you ever come face to face with yourself?

What did you see?

Will you conform your life to your reflection, or boldly live beyond what is reflected?