Mirrors are Enhancers , of Space , Mind and Science
I had a garden in my bathroom and I lost it when my bathroom mirror crashed ! I lost the greenery , I lost the space , and music doesn’t sound the same anymore ! Where has all the brightness gone ? My bathroom is quite pretty but it has lost its soul ! I wish I had taken a picture while it adorned my bathroom. The mirror that had given me light , space and sound broke a few days back , shattering my chilling out zone. Hung right opposite the door of the bathroom which in turn faces a large window , the mirror was my gateway to a verdant surrounding. It was an illusion alright , mirrors are illusionists , but it felt like I was amidst plants and flowers , the image lifting my spirits every time I stood in front of the mirror , to brush my teeth or remove my makeup.
The mirror brightened up my bathroom reflecting sunshine from the outside , through the door and the window opposite. Another window is strategically located at a 90 degree angle to the mirror with a flowering creeper on its outside and it only enhanced the feel of the room . Sunbeams played hide and seek , while the leaves and branches of the trees swaying in the breeze, gave me a sense of well-being and soothed my mind ! But now , with the mirror gone , feels denuded.
I now feel claustrophobic ! Mirrors are space-enhancers , right ? With my illusionist gone , it feels like I am walking into the wall opposite every time I step into the bathroom.
You all know there are acoustic mirrors , mirrors that reflect sound waves. Such mirrors were used in Britain during World War II to detect sound waves from the enemy camp and their ammunition. There are , apparently a few such mirrors still around the coast of Britain , but alas , not easily accessible to the public or the tourists. I am now certain that my bathroom mirror was close to being an acoustic mirror , probably by default , I don’t remember having paid heavily for it. But , yes , music sounded better with the mirror in place . One of those that are hooked to music , I keep my bluetooth speaker tucked in a dry corner. But with the mirror gone , it sounds flat now. Wondering why I haven’t got myself a new gleaming one ? Work has been hectic , but will find time to do mirror-shopping in a day or two , else I may slip into depression ! And yours truly is not alone in this , my family cribs about it too. Have you all heard of the joke where two houseflies are identified as one male and other female ? The fly that perched itself on the beer bottle being a male and the other that buzzed in front of the mirror , the female . No longer does this hold ground. I love beer as much as the men in my life are obsessed with mirrors ! On a lighter note , ha ha ! And while on this , a few mirror-facts.
Mirrors and healing
This world would be a barren place without mirrors. While they are good for your vanity they are therapeutic too. Neuroscientists work with mirrors and they are used for certain kinds of healing , specially with phantom limbs attached onto amputated limbs. Its called mirror-therapy , invented by Vilayanur S Ramachandran , using mirror-boxes. Click on the two links , very informative.
Mirrors and moods
I have noticed , in myself and in others that most often , we look into mirrors in happy , cheerful moods. Very rarely does the mirror attract grey moods , or perhaps once in a while , like in the movies when actors emote in front of mirrors , and that’s clearly a cinematic touch. We stop by , even if it’s a distant mirror in the airport or a hotel , to look into when upbeat , but give it a miss in lesser moods. Agree ? But your mirror can be your best friend and critic and its fine if you spend time every day looking at yourself. ( not letting it become an obsession though ) As Tennessee Williams puts it , “There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realise that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors.”
Or improve on what you did not like , would be MY take.
I guess humans take to mirrors most naturally , it is said children usually develop mirror self-recognition at 24 months. But this world is full of differences and that is what makes it worthwhile. In countries like Fiji and Kenya , children failed to pass tests of mirror self-recognition even at six years of age and exhibited reactions of shock ! Not because they are genetically or psychologically different from the rest of us , but because of cultural differences , in the way mirrors are used or the importance placed on mirrors in those habitats.
Mirrors and animals
Well , many animals are observed to be indifferent to reflections in mirrors. Do pets pass the mirror self recognition test ? Those that have pets can tell , I don’t have one , so am unsure. Researchers have tried this experiment and its interesting. They marked a few elephants and gorillas on their faces and led them to mirrors. While elephants did exhibit self recognition in mirrors , they remained unperturbed by the marks and were observed to have walked away. However , repeated exposure of the marks to the pachyderms in the mirror finally led one elephant to try and touch the real mark on its forehead.
Pic courtesy : Psychology forA.com
But gorillas is another story. These animals are said to be easily embarrassed. On looking at their marked images , they were observed to scurry to a private place to rub away the marks they saw on themselves in the mirrors. Smart ones. Like us.
Image courtesy : Rebecca Turner
This marking method has revealed that other species could also be much more self-aware than we give them credit for. Most of them seem to be mammals – chimpanzees , orangutans , bonobos , gorillas , elephants , dolphins , killer whales and such. Yes , close to us.
Keeping the most interesting to the last. What do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror ? You think the mirror reverses your image , right ? Your left shows as the mirror image’s right ( because the mirror image is facing you ? ) and vice-versa. We told you mirror is the best illusionist. But wait , a true mirror concept was developed , where the user got to see their reflection as others would see them , again for reasons of vanity , to effectively apply makeup ! Try this and you will love it. Position two mirrors at 90º angle and look at yourself where the two mirrors join. Lift your right hand and your mirror image will lift its right hand too ! Lift your left hand and your mirror image will lift its left hand too ! Isn’t that how the world sees you ? I tried my hand at it and this is the best I could do at an available source.
I remember , two-generations old grandmas chiding us when we looked into mirrors very often as little children. Their intentions were noble and it was the grand old days , but times have changed and how , we now live in a world of mirrors , powered by mirrors. I look forward to your mirror-experiences , share if you have any.