Guided Writing Sessions

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Guided Writing Session: May 11

Thanks to all that joined the session.

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Writing Prompt 1: What do you see when you look in the mirror? Who is this person you call yourself?

Writing Prompt 2: Describe the character you play in the world. How does (s)he differ from your mirror image? Explore the reasons for this difference.

To share a piece of writing, click 'Reply', post your work, and click 'Submit'.

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Who is this person you call yourself?

When I look in the mirror, I see the same smile I wore in my school picture, in second grade.  Now my hair’s much longer, reaching my waist.   It’s streaked with silver.  Any day now it could all suddenly turn white.  I’m silvering in my eyelashes and eyebrows too.

I haven't spent much time among the aging, so these  effects surprise me.  Fine fissures mark my skin, in patterns like a river, curving apart and coming together according to their own rules.  My eyes are the same as ever, perhaps more pensive.  They don’t focus as well.  This means there’s more pointillism to my vision.  My sense of seeing’s been softened.  

I return to sensing myself as seer, instead of the one being seen.  I’d like to be both these things, interior and exterior at once, like a stereophonic being.  When I experience the sound of life with both ears,  I discover my resonance. The things I hum with.   This unity of influence stretches back into my ancestors, and forwards, through my progeny.  

Eying my reflection, I notice my smile is dimpled, the way my little brother's was.  I’ve no memory of my father’s face, but I’ve heard these facial commas marked his countenance too.  I blocked  both of them from recall.  Connecting to them was painful, fraught with my brother’s death, and father’s absence.

Since I’ve revisited them, those memories can flow through me without getting so snagged in emotions I’d rather avoid, like sadness or anger.  I feel connected to my father in ways larger than his absence.

I’m linked beyond him, resonating with a culture I was never shown.  I don’t need his permission to connect with what’s my birthright.   I’m an adult now.  I can find meaning in his ancestors' legacy. This connection’s stronger than my alienation.

I credit this connection to the women's customs of that culture.  They let me open to vulnerability — my pain at feeling unmet.  They contain me, reaching through me.  I feel their good intentions, blue sky and golden sunshine, all along the way.  I experience this, even as my body senses father’s  absence.  

It’s another experience of being two places at once.  They change one’s perceptions.  I feel nothingness where a holding should be.  I  remember all the babies I observed as part of my training.  There’s a dance of adjustment between caregiver and child - finding the holding this particular child is seeking.  

The black hole of emptiness, threatening to swallow me, shifts out of the overwhelm of unregulated emotion as I consider interdependency.  It turns into  the ordinariness of an infant, signaling it wants something it can’t say.  My abyss of emotion becomes normal.  Something’s changed.

I notice that I’m loved.  Even without him.  Although it’s not how I’ve defined love, I can sense it’s there.  What I saw as shadow monster was a trick of light.  I can relax into it,  releasing my rigid expectations.  I open to what is.

Synchronistically, the poetry writing group I belong to has shifted its focus from  Greek myths to Nordic ones.  I have company in exploring these cultural resources.  This switch  happened without my verbal input, yet it suits me exactly.  Synchronicity’s  another form of more than, greater than the sum of.  Events link to make new  meanings.

Looking in the mirror, I see my son’s eyes, and my granddaughter’s smile.  They link me to a future past my living.  When I sing, I hear my past as my mother’s voice, so like mine.  I’m the now between the future and the past. 

I still remember my mother as more perfect than she was, infused with mother- archetype.  I struggle to separate myself from my aspirations, seeing my  shadows in the light, all part of the same process.  That’s my intent now.  To notice the subtleties of me, beyond physical appearance.  The collectivities that inform me, even in my separateness.  I’m this body, yet I’m more.

I’ve read about the benefits of mirror meditation.  In gazing at one’s reflection, one notices one’s shift to critical gaze, and this cues a deeper seeing, noticing the impact of self judgement while questioning the results of it.   I’ll try it, for ten minutes each day over the next ten days.  Then I’ll decide if I need/want to continue.   I like living as a mad scientist.  

In many novels, there’s a moment when glancing in a mirror reveals a new perception, and the protagonist ‘s world changes.  I’d like to open to seeing more of the what is of life.  I’ll see what I notice with my trial.

For now, I see myself as physical, and wanting to include my subtler experiences too.  I see myself as part of a chain of persons, both known and unknown to me.  This connection happens without effort, on an autonomic level.  It’s not dependent on physical connection, but it requires a sense of membership/belonging.  It happens to its own timing. 

For years, I’ve struggled with what I heard my education forecast for a person of my background.  It predicts limits to the intimacy I can tolerate.  This could well be true.  What I need to let go of is the shame I feel about this.  My limits aren’t a product of my badness.  There’s no shame in imperfection.  It’s hard to hold this thought when I’m not grounded in myself.  There’s the allure of seeing perfection as the tonic to my shame, when it’s the cause of it.  

I long to be a larger, connected self, many layered.  An eternal self, akin to Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2.  It’s a reflection of the body as movement through a moment.  Each step can be perceived as separate, or as a confluence of unities  It’s both differentiated and unified.  I used to see this painting as a reflection of my fragmentation.  Now I see it as a system, processing.  It’s what I’d like to be.  


Hi Devon,

thank you for the penetrating and inspiration writing.  It brings to mind the Joan Borysenko talk about the river of our lives, that can begin before we were born, runs in seven year cycles and allows us to identify angels and negative experiences that can teach us so much.  This piece is part of your river as you look back through your changing physical characteristics and forward to your child and grandchild's traits that match yours.

I enjoy your experience of yourself, how you challenge and try new things to move you forward like the poetry class or the mirror exercise you keep moving in self-inquiry and I admire that!

RUBY has reacted to this post.

Hi Madeline—

Thanks for taking the time to read my piece, and reply.  I try to post with as few expectations as I can manage, but it always furthers one to have the support of friends.  Further thanks for understanding what I was trying to say.  I feel seen and heard.  I’d love to return the favor, if you feel like posting some writing.   I also enjoyed the Joan Borysenko interview.  Thanks again —Devon


RUBY has reacted to this post.


What a wonderful reflection on what you see when you look in the mirror.  The shift you describe from fear, alienation, and separateness to the intuition of interconnection is palpable here. "The black hole of emptiness, threatening to swallow me, shifts out of the overwhelm of unregulated emotion as I consider interdependency," you write. "It turns into  the ordinariness of an infant, signaling it wants something it can’t say.  My abyss of emotion becomes normal.  Something’s changed."  YES. The ordinary desire for attachment is universal sacred.  Thank you for sharing this writing.  And I'm glad you liked the interview with Joan B!

See you on Tuesday, I hope. Have a good weekend, 


Thanks for your comments, Mark.  Your feedback adds to my understanding of my writing.  What I hear you say is that the impulse for attachment is a sacred in it’s universality.    I like  the thought of that.  

My granddaughter and I are doing Joan B’s “Egg of Light Meditation” together.   It’s new for her to  meditate.  It feels wonderful, sharing the experience with her.    

I’ve got some questions about questions, but I’ll put them in the monthly wrap-up sessions.  

I plan on seeing what new questions next Tuesday holds.  I like this having group discussions  as an additional option.  Talking and listening can spare me some drafts!  I appreciate the forum’s flexibility  —Devon