The person peering at you when you look in the mirror is not the same person who looks back at you from a photograph of your face. I prefer the mirror’s version of myself. It is hard to pin down just what makes my reflected image slightly more tolerable than the photo, but that rendition is better. Not more appealing, just not as hard on the mind’s eye. The fact that the mirror presents a reverse image (a mirror-image…duh) must have quite a lot to do with the level or lack thereof of appeal. This entire paragraph seems a bit narcissistic; but it is not. If I could recast the face looking back and me (both from the mirror and the photo), the image would be of a man with blue eyes, tanned skin, a chiseled handsome nose and mouth and jawline, and only one neck—sans the turkey-like wattle. I wonder whether my preference for my mirror-image is unique? I doubt it. Even when I try to quash my vanity, it finds a way to bubble to the surface. We’re probably all like that. Human. The image is not all we see, by the way. We see our own mood when we look in the mirror. And we see the mood we were in when a photo was taken. Others do not necessarily see the same moods we see. Sometimes, others’ interpretations of our moods are radically different from our own.


The wonders of Nature sometimes seem so utterly remarkable and complex—so elaborate and sophisticated and intricate—that nothing humans do could possibly come close. But, then, I come across something as stunning as the world’s first whole eye and partial face transplant. A Hot Springs man was badly injured when his face touched a 7200-volt live wire. The victim had extensive injuries—including the loss of his left eye, his dominant left arm from above the elbow, his entire nose and lips, front teeth, left cheek area, and chin down to the bone. I viewed a series of three photos of the man: the first one taken pre-accident; the second one (a terribly disturbing one of his face after his injury); and the third, a more recent one, taken after his 21 hour surgery that involved a team of more than 140 surgeons, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Humans can survive unspeakable horrors…and humans can perform work that seems to almost simulate miracles.


Yesterday, we made a trip to Costco, got our COVID-19 boosters, and watched episodes of season 5 of Unforgotten. There must have been more…oh, I drafted a message to members of my church concerning a mundane, but important, matter. And I scanned the news, of course. Collected the mail, of course, including a lovely gift from mi novia, a wire “wreath” designed to display collected wine corks. Trying to itemize a list of all of one’s activities during the course of a day is, in my opinion, essentially impossible. Too many actions and activities take place with the mental equivalent of autopilot; some actions simply do not register—trying to capture all of them would be like attempting to make a record of every breath we take. Pointless. Yet, like breathing, omitting the actions that “do not register” could well lead to the same outcome as breath-cessation. They are vitally important, but they take place without specific intent.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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