Who are you? Some stare dumbly, sarcastically as the question leaves one mouth and travels the sound waves to their ears. “I don’t know…the cat is out of food.” As if the cat will cover for the uncertainty of their answer. “I’m me,” one slyly responds, finding their answer fits into some mysterious loophole of ambiguity. And yet others, “I am Batman,” “I’m a mother,” “I’m a doctor,” “I’m a teacher,” “I’m a Christian,” “I’m a goddess.” The question, obviously, is the irrelevant part because the answer defines the question and not, as it would seem, the other way around. But, hold up a mirror to these people and ask them, “is this you?” and there will probably be some response in the way of “of course it is you moron, who else would it be?” Face is the fact. Until it isn’t.
How much are we defined by what greets us as we look in the mirror? And what if we couldn’t see or even more dramatically, because not having vision heightens other senses, what if the face suddenly, drastically changed? Sure, the slow degeneration of human flesh can have a pretty dramatic effect on people resulting in millions upon billions of dollars for the beauty industry. Aging men and women stare at their returned image feeling the youth of their mind has been betrayed. This doesn’t happen overnight. There’s a build up. Think about the significance if this change did happen in the blink of a moment. One second you’re face is the one you’ve seen every day for *blank* years and then POOF…gone. In the morning, you stare in the mirror and someone else looks back at you. “Who are you?!” you demand. “Who are you?!” demands the reflection in a maddening game of copy cat.
This is not out of realm of possibility. Many people face circumstances that change their looks permanently. Necessary surgeries turn into altered visages. Tragedies instantly turn the man or woman in the mirror into a stranger. In March 2008, former model and British television presenter Katie Piper had sulfuric acid thrown in her face resulting in disfiguring burns. Here someone who made a living based on her appearance irrevocably changed in an instant. Or was she? Well of course she was, but not because of the way she looked. Had you not had the gift of sight and spoke to Ms. Piper pre-accident you would have heard a girl with a certain set of ideas about the world, possibly some naive or idealistic. Again without vision you speak to Ms. Piper post-accident, this is a different woman, most certainly more cautious, less idealist and more realist, and potentially more grateful for life. Real life…not an imagined perfection. And most certainly she is more compassionate, or one can hope so. This isn’t to say that this horrific incident was a good thing, far from it. It was the worst of crimes, but it’s also a social wake up call about where our focus lies. Beauty is relative.
The message here should be a clear one: judge not by what you see on the outside. When you are asked “who are you?”, know the answer with your eyes closed. And when you meet someone new, see them for the first time as if you have no vision except the telepathic kind…reading them from the inside. What’s in the mirror can easily and most definitely will change into something less young, less perfect by social standards, and yet perfect in every way.