It wasn’t him, not this part. He was clear, gentle, always willing to shed a little light or share the burdens of a troubling spirit. But lately, he sees someone else on the mirror. Lines entrenched on a face full of certainty. Gaze sharp and secure as shadows drape underneath eyes worn of a life fifty years in the making.
Fifty years in the making. Has it been that long? Life went by so quickly. Even with all the down time, it was still too quick to absorb. It moved from scene to scene, scattering from place to place. A work of art, some would call his life. But behind the smiling, that was expected of him, behind the poise, which he necessitated onto himself, the accumulated weight of every disaster. Every bruise and every misspent opportunity that boiled down to catastrophe. It never showed on his face, but it carried on secretly in the inner depths of his heart until it lumbered with contempt.
And for the pedestrian – you might think: what a sorry way to look at life! No, the words from his mouth are meaningful now because of this. Everyone respects him now and asks for his advice. They all see how he has everything figured out, with him telling stories of both successful ventures and far-flung foolish leaps that took him to the best of his youth over strong wine and stiff bread. They see the confident man, steadily implanted on his ideals, living a life they know he’ll see to the happy end. But he privately ignores every compliment because he knows they’re not based on truth and gradually withdraws from the rest of the world, as if curtains slowly start to draw to a close.
A quiet determination to keep things out. And to keep things in. Like strings tightened as necklaces around his throat.
That is life to him now. It must not been what he wanted.
In the secret moments, the things that he feels, it no longer cries, no longer gives itself away theatrically. It only tends to itself in silence. Tumbling around, thrashing about, and bouncing off his thick skin. He flies in from storm to storm and gently smiles to passing reflections of himself by reflecting windows. The things inside, they will never quite get out, and at his age, it’s too late to change that now.
A twenty year old stares blankly at a switched off television screen. He wonders what it would be like to see beyond today, and far into tomorrow. Lately, he sees himself on the mirror and he’s proud of what he’s becoming. Stoic, confident, full of meaningful words. To him, life is never easy but he knows it’s eventually going to get better. It’d be just a matter of time. Trust me, he’d say. It’d be just like a work of art.
If we should get old, nothing will be quite as painful as the slow realization of all that is lost.