I don’t remember the book or even the narrative that turned its pages, but I do remember the scene …
A middle-aged man stares into the mirror, marveling at the fact that every time he sees himself, he is disappointed. How can there be disappointment every time? Wouldn’t expectations lower and meet reality at some point? Instead, every time, there is that stomach churn of less than he imagines, less than he hopes, less than he goes about his everyday aware.
I think of that scene, torn free of context, often.
I turn it over in my mind, fitting its jagged edges to the leftover puzzle pieces of what I know and can’t explain.
Zeno’s paradox (why do I remember that but not the details of the mirrored man?) states that one is forever halving the distance to a goal, therefore never arriving at the destination. The distance from here to there can be traversed an infinite number of times, the paradox states, and so no one ever arrives anywhere. The distance to a goal is always halved, and so never spanned.
Logical and yet self-contradictory, as paradoxes are wont to be.
What if the mirror is the same, somehow?
Each of us becomes aware, in the shimmer of silvered glass, of a traveling through time, and with every reflection, we travel halfway to our ultimate destination. Every time we gaze upon the reflected moment in which we exist, we cover half the ground between here and there; the next reflection starts from the point at which we only arrived as we turned away from ourselves and the glass, and so each mirrored time, the next vision of ourselves is not quite what we remember.
The more we rely on reflected truths, the more agonizing the disappointment … every time.
Each time we gaze upon ourselves, we are required to assimilate the knowledge of the distance half-spanned even as time is traveled (and halved) again.
Until, of course, the distance is halved into nothingness, and the halves of our remaining time are, paradoxically, traversed … made whole and complete.
And we die.
In other news, I told Mark the other day that this feels like the part of our marriage in which I fall completely apart and he divorces me.
He barely looked up from his computer. “My choices are, as always, a function of the comparable appeal of my various options.”
Which he claims was a compliment.
He makes me laugh.