The Candid Mirror

He stands before the mirror, eye to eye with his reflection. At first, he sees the surface details — the wrinkles on his forehead and the slight sagging of his jowls that seem to become more prominent with each passing year. Who is this man?

But looking deeper, beyond the physical flaws, he sees the true outlines of his essential self. Those eyes have witnessed both great sorrows and immense joys. The lines on his face, created by wide grins and happy moments are evidence of the happiness he has experienced. The wrinkles on his forehead are markers of a mind that is always questioning, analysing, and understanding the world around him.

These things he sees are not imperfections that need to be fixed. They are the battle scars and character lines that shape who he is. He neither overly admires nor is offended by them, but regards them with a calm, philosophical eye. From this perspective, He can objectively reckon his strengths and weaknesses, virtues and vices, memories, and the lessons he has learned along the way.

The Greeks call this inner tranquillity ataraxia (Greek: αταραξία) — a state of equanimity in the face of whatever life brings, the highest form of resilience. Misfortune and adversity do not have to cause anguish and anger. With a calm soul, he can respond with reason and fortitude.

Like a painter studying his work, he aims to craft the portrait of his life with careful, measured strokes, turning life’s chaotic outlines into a composed masterpiece of personal character. While he may have once been flattered by his youthful appearance, he is no longer entranced by superficial reflections. He strives to refine and polish his most authentic self, continually polishing the mirror of his soul.

As the ancient Greeks wisely observed, “It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” By looking inward with ruthless honesty, and by assessing our strengths and flaws without hesitation, we can create our life’s great work with sagacious intention. 

This is what it means to truly live; to know oneself deeply, flaws and all, in that candid mirror of self-reflection.


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