I needed a break from my weeks-long secret project, so I dived into one of the 21 Secrets workshops. The one I chose was entitled “The Savage Mirror,” and involved painting a self portrait while looking in a mirror, then journaling about the process.
The instructor encouraged us to write continuously for ten minutes, emphasizing that it’s at the end of the writing purge that the important stuff comes out. I’ve journaled for years and was skeptical, but decided to do it anyway. I set my iPhone timer and just started writing. It took nine minutes and fifty seconds:
“Looking in the mirror and studying my own face… trying to see beyond the physical shell and into the person beneath the surface… first I am caught up in the lines and wrinkles–the creases around my mouth and eyes, the furrow in my brow… I am unhappy that my mouth naturally curves down into a frown now, that my lips have thinned. I begin contemplating Botox again–a desire to recapture the youth that once looked back at me in the mirror. Trying to draw what I see, wanting to get the lines right, make my drawing look realistic, portrait-like, caught up in the outcome, as always. I most enjoy drawing the eyes–they are the part of my face I still like the best. Though the skin around them sags, the eyes themselves never age. The eyes that stare back at me in the mirror today are the same eyes that have stared back at me for fifty two years. I am the same person, the same soul, hiding inside the aging physical form, that I have always been. Older, hopefully a bit wiser, but still me inside there. The mirror is indeed a savage mirror, ruthlessly exposing every flaw on the surface. But maybe the eyes are the real mirror, reflecting back the soul within… ageless, perfect, timeless?”