This past week has been quite a challenging one for me for a number of reasons, both personal and professional. Nevertheless, I managed to get through it and things are thankfully looking up now. During this rough patch I did quite a bit of reflection on my life. In fact, I have been ruminating on life and its meaning all year in the back of my mind, and finally everything came to the fore last week. What crystalized in my thoughts was not so much a deep, earth-shattering revelation but rather an unremarkable, simple insight which has incrementally shifted my outlook in life.
I am no guru nor Zen master. So I do not claim to have found some infinite, universal wisdom of the ages. At best, I have happened upon a subtle insight which I hope will make me not only an incrementally better person but also possibly an incrementally better writer. The former is perhaps a bit optimistic, but I feel the latter is certainly within my grasp. You see as a writer, in particular of fiction (historical fiction to be precise in my case), one needs to be a diligent student of life in order to capture and convey the essence of the various characters in a story. Ultimately, this requires a fundamental understanding of human behavior and what makes us tick.
As behavioral psychologists have known since the time immemorial, our behavior is defined by the behavior of others around us. In turn, this means that by and large the behavior of people around us is a reflection of our own behavior. The people surrounding us form a mirror of life. They reflect back what we project into the universe. If we broadcast negative energy, even in only one aspect of our lives, it will eventually come back to us in another way. This of course links to the well-known Hindu concept of karma. However, it goes a step further.
Often times we fail to recognize ourselves in the mirror of life. We have blind spots. We struggle to make the connection between the challenging experiences we are facing in the ‘here and now’ and past situations, in particular instances in which perhaps the tables were turned and our behavior was less than ideal. Let me share a personal example to drive home the point.
I remember a few years back when I was not getting along well with my oldest brother. We had not talked in many years and he tried to reach out me. But because of past ‘bad blood’ I rebuffed his approaches. I felt justified in refusing to forgive him and I was very adamant in not giving him a chance to connect with me. At the time I rationalized it by conveniently arguing that I wanted to keep negative people and those who bring me down out of my life.
Ironically, at about the same I found myself in a situation in which I was asking someone whom I loved very deeply for forgiveness and a second chance. Yet she mirrored exactly the behavior I had exhibited towards my brother. I was heartbroken and lamented the fact that I was not given the opportunity that I longed for to redeem myself. Yet in hindsight how could I have expected her forgiveness when I was I was unwilling to give it to my brother.
There are of course many such examples from my life, which illustrate how the mirror of life crops up in many unexpected ways. As you can see from the example I shared the mirror of life can manifest itself in the behavior of others around us in indirect, non-causal ways. This seems counter-intuitive and illogical, yet my experiences in life undeniably attest to this phenomenon.
In my upcoming historical fiction novel, Children of the Ocean God, I am applying this insight in the development of various key characters, each of whom exhibit different flaws and strengths. I find it quite a powerful tool to wield as it adds a further layer of realism and believability to the story. I hope my readers will enjoy my creative application of the mirror of life too. Till next time, keep well!
What do you think about this concept of the mirror of life? Has it manifested in your own life? How did you experience it? Please feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment.