The Mirror of Truth
In the heart of the city there was a bistro where people would come
from far and wide to revel in merriment with strangers and friends alike.
At the heart of the establishment was a manager who longed to create
a place where people could come and share their dreams and wishes with
those around them. He wished for a place of inspiration, a constructive
alternative to the bars in the area where people went to escape their
lives. Here he wanted to create a place where people could meet themselves
face to face while enjoying the encouragement of others.
_____One day the manager heard of a special
"Mirror of Truth" which enables one to see his image exactly
as it is. The mirror had the power to reveal the reflection of the true
character of the person who gazed into it. He knew in an instant that
he must do whatever was necessary to obtain the mirror. With this wonderful
addition his patrons would be assured of receiving honest insight into
their lives. Affirmations would abound and people would come from far
and wide to consult the magical image. He pooled his resources and took
a chance, purchasing the expensive piece of glass.
_____Upon hanging the mirror he heard it
speak as he wiped it clean. "You are a caring man, risking your own
security so that others might see themselves more clearly. Others who
have tried to purchase me reflected images of greed and fortune-hunting."
_____Excitement filled the man as he thought
of the possibilities that were before him. He could reach out to people
like never before. A celebration was surely in order. He held a gala heralding
the arrival of his new acquisition, and all the regulars were there alongside
others who had heard the news. It was quite an event indeed. The first
to try the mirror was a doctor who was respected throughout the city for
his work. Walking up to the mirror he asked, "what can you tell me
about this face?"
_____"What is it that you do?"
the mirror asked.
_____"I am a physician," the man
answered "I attend to the ill children of this fair city."
_____"Yes, you are that, and a fine
example you are. You see that all our children are given a chance at happiness
and health through your generous service."
_____The manager was overjoyed, for he knew
his dream had come true. What an addition this "Mirror of Truth"
would be. Pleased with his decision and feeling quite comfortable, he
went to his office and allowed his patrons to carry on.
_____A young woman stepped up to the mirror
and asked, "what is it you see?"
_____The mirror asked again, "What is
it that you do?"
_____"I am an actress?"
_____"What is it that you do?"
_____She was confused. "I told you,
I am an actress."
_____"You spend your hours watching
movies and your money comes as you wait tables at night. My dear, you
are a fine waitress."
_____"But I am only waiting tables until
my career takes off..."
_____"Actresses act, you are a waitress."
_____The woman was offended by the mirror's
blunt remarks. As she stormed out the door, giggles sifted through the
crowd. Many had suspected her to be lazy and full of empty dreams.
Next a local businessman moved to the mirror. He thought of himself
as a beacon of goodness in the community as he belonged to every charitable
organization imaginable. The mirror asked him the question posed to
the previous two patrons.
_____"I am an accountant," answered
the man, "but that is merely my means to support my family and those
less fortunate in our community."
_____"It is true that you offer your
finances to those around you, but your ego is your master. If not for
the adoration you receive and the medallions of honor, your gifts would
not come through."
_____The man was truly hurt, for no one gave
the money and time that he offered. He wondered if anyone should truly
care why he gives; the fact is, he gives. He moved to a corner table and
sat in puzzled silence.
_____A bit more reluctantly the next person
moved to the mirror, a young lady who attended the nearby university.
In an attempt to avoid the pattern of the previous two who had been offended,
she spoke first.
_____"Mirror, I profess to have no special
claims, so I humble myself to you. I am a mere student with dreams of
greater worlds to conquer once my studies are complete."
_____"My dear, why do you long for greater
worlds when you are overwhelmed by the one you live in now? Can you be
sure your dreams are not a mask you wear while you mark time? Do you surround
yourself with acquaintances and call them friends? Dream you are a princess
while you wear a pauper's guise, and you'll find you are a pauper in the
end. Only when you fly will you be an eagle. Take your head out of the
sand and then you may see the sky."
_____She did not remain at the mirror long
enough to answer its questions. She hid her face from her friends and
began to weep, embarrassed to show her outburst before them. They assured
her that she was worthy of her dreams and promised to remain by her side
as she lived her every desire. She retreated into herself, wondering why
she felt threatened by their insistence on holding her to her dreams.
She spent the remainder of the night in a quiet state of confusion.
_____The pattern continued for hours and
hours as countless people consulted the magic reflection. Some went away
elated, while most went away confused, bewildered, even angry. But each
noticed a difference when returning home for the night. Those who had
a bad experience found it difficult to look in their own mirrors, though
they had done it thousands of times before. Still their remained a fear
of gazing upon the image in that familiar glass, and each time they saw
their reflection they looked with but half their heart.
_____As weeks went by, the manager noticed
the patrons avoiding the wall where the mirror hung. In fact, the attendance
dropped dramatically and the tables near the mirror almost always remained
empty. Talk in the bistro was subdued and casual and the festive atmosphere
was all but gone. The manager could not help but blame the mirror, though
it seemed peculiar that not a single person had registered a complaint.
Still, it seemed he had no choice but to remove it from the wall.
_____As he approached the mirror he was puzzled,
for he could not begin to understand the mirror's lack of tact in dealing
with his patrons. Had it not itself praised him for wanting to help and
encourage them? He decided to pose the question to the mirror itself,
but the mirror refused to answer. It was incapable of introspection, for
it could only comment on the images it reflected. As the man started to
take the mirror from the wall he had an idea. He took the magic "Mirror
of Truth" into the storage room where he found several other mirrors
that had been taken down years earlier when the bistro had been remodeled.
He positioned the mirrors in such a manner as to allow the magical one
to see its own reflection without the ability to focus on any of the other
mirrors. He asked the mirror to describe what it saw.
_____"You are a mirror of truth,"
he answered. "You see the reality of the image cast before you."
_____"Why does this 'Mirror of Truth'
judge others so harshly?" the manager inquired.
_____"Most mirrors allow those who gaze
at them to see any reflection they choose, fearing not the image before
them for it is of their own choosing. This mirror is one of truth for
it forces them to see what is really there. This magical mirror does not
pass judgment, it only reflects it."
_____The manager took the mirror from the
bistro and placed an ad in all the papers in an attempt to sell it. By
this time its reputation was widespread and his ads fostered no inquiries
at all. _____Pondering what to do with the
mirror, he remembered the words it had said.
_____ "Judgment." That was the
key. "This magical mirror does not pass judgment, it reflects it."
_____With this revelation the manager knew
just what to do. He gave it as a gift to three elderly ladies who had
lived a stupendous life of absolute love and endless service to mankind
with never a thought for self. They were most grateful for his generosity
and had him hang it in their private quarters. For the remainder of their
lives they dressed before it each morning and night.
The mirror never spoke another word.
© 1993 - Paul Stephens