“The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion.”—William Makepeace Thackeray
This morning, I had the privilege of watching the physical therapy team working Vernon out in the Gym today. It was fascinating enough, ust seeing him in a bright new environment and hearing their positive coaching. But I found it especially interesting that they used a mirror so that the patient could see how much his body was responding to direction.
I wondered how difficult it might be for Vernon (or any patient) to start looking at his reflection in the early days. He sometimes seems rather worried when he starts to realize he is in a wheelchair, for example. But again, I have no idea how he is processing these things. I just try to figure out what he looks like he is thinking in those moments. Soon, he will be able to tell us…or else he will forget and it won’t matter anyway.
Still, it did hit my heart a little that it might be difficult to look at himself in the mirror at this stage. Though he looks so great to those of us who have been watching him closely for the past 108 days, he wouldn’t look the same as he might prefer to remember himself. When the PTs tell him to lift his head and look in the mirror, he does lift his head as best he can, but I noticed that he keeps his eyes down. This may be a whole new phase of ‘reality check’ for him. But ultimately, the truth is what sets us free. I hope that he can come to terms with his reflection and his reality peacefully. As the rest of us humans know, that is not always an easy thing…even without disabilities.
Incidentally, this reminds me of a wonderful photo-project by TOM HUSSY. In this series, elderly people envisioning themselves in their prime, they way they once were. I think Vernon may be experiencing a taste of the opposite. And I feel for him, it could be a shock. But in his case, he is getting “younger” and more able by the day.