The Woman Behind the Mirror

Recently, I cut my hair. I cut it quite short, & then a week later, I cut it again, this time with a razor. I didn't know why I was cutting it or what style I was hoping to achieve, I just knew I had to move with my deep desire for personal & physical transformation. I was tired of the long curls hanging around my face. I was tired of the daily maintenance required to keep the frizz under control. I was tired, even, of the wild-woman archetype my lion's mane couldn't help but announce before the rest of me entered a room. My curls, like my spirit, are free, but that doesn't mean anything about me, personally, as a woman. If I truly am free then I am free to express myself as refined & put together as much as I am free to express myself as a wildflower flame.

Before the expression comes the embodiment. As a woman I am a multi-faceted being. Sometimes I feel wild, yes, sun-kissed & living barefoot near the ocean, long locks thick with salt water baked in the sun. Other times I feel dignified & reserved, like a French art model from the 1920s who also works as an undercover psychoanalyst & knows how to time-travel. These are all moods to embody. These are fantasies. The aesthetic of a fantasy is not about the image itself but about the feeling the image evokes. What is a word but a symbol for the sound inside it? Beauty is not the surface appearance of reality but a symbolic expression of the mystery that dreams beneath. It's a reminder that life in its essence is rich.

And sometimes, when my head is too full of images of all that I could be, I don't feel like I look like anything at all. I remember: I exist before I am seen. Back to the drawing board we go. I prefer to be a blank canvas. I prefer my sound pristine.

When people look at us, & when we look at others, they, & we, often look at one another through the lens of a preconceived image. They don't look at us but parts of us, & they compare those parts to their own parts or to the parts of other people's images. We do this to others. We do this to ourselves, too. We draw conclusions based on incomplete evidence. We write entire belief systems of self & other based in fundamental half-truths. We see with dead eyes & miss the living light expression of cosmic sound materialized before us in the shape of human life.

After I all but buzzed my hair, I had to come face to face with myself in the mirror & see how I was seeing myself through a fractured lens. At first, I couldn't see my whole face, I could only see parts of it - the angle of my jawline, the shape of my nose. With the curls no longer there to frame & influence my image, I had to see all of me in purity. Who is she? My new hair cut resembled a doe-eyed Audrey Hebpurn pixie, & immediately I found myself comparing the rest of my features to that of young Audrey & feeling bad about where I judged my own features to fall short in the wake of her delicate feminine beauty. This is a consciousness trap.

After a day or two of feeling awkwardly androgynous without the safety net of my long hair, it occurred to me that the quality of femininity is essence, not form. Form follows essence. The essence informs the form. Following this logic, then, I realized that the expression of my femininity is not subject to a single feature such as the length of my hair or a certain angle of my jaw. Rather, the expression of my femininity is my embodiment of feeling feminine from deep within my core. The expression of my femininity is the living composite of multiple aspects of self. As I embodied this revelation, I started seeing myself differently. I stopped looking at parts of my face & instead saw my whole face, which I noticed was always shifting, like a prism refracting light. My appearance shifts as my expression shifts, it shifts as the color of the daylight shifts. The woman behind the mirror is not a static image.

Rather, woman is the mirror. The essence of femininity, the element of water, both reflects & absorbs whatever image is projected upon her. Others can project images upon us, & we can project images upon ourselves. How is one born, then, from the recesses of her own mind?

Her true image, which is ever-shifting in the light, is born from beyond the mind, from the pre-genesis waters of the cosmic womb. To move with a feeling, then, born from within, & to ride that feeling to the surface of one's expression, is to become both the living art & architect of God's dream.

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