"You had one eye in the mirror
as you watched yourself gavotte*...."
- Carly Simon
It was December 31, 1972...38 years ago - wow...and I was on my way to a party. I'd offered to work the lunch shift at the Country Club's ninth hole so that I could celebrate New Year's Eve with friends. I'd spent too much time primping and fussing in front of the mirror and now I was running late.
With one hand on the steering wheel, and one eye on the winding country road, I tried to apply a little Yardley lip gloss while driving in the freezing rain. I'd only just begun driving, and I was already certain I could fly. But that's another post.
Carly's "You're So Vain" was pumping through the car's speakers, and throbbing in my veins like a musical drug. Life was hard, but I was going to have fun this night by golly.
I remember thinking, "I wonder if I am vain?" as I smoothed a smidge of shimmery Pot o' Gloss pink gloss along my lower lip. And by the way, I thought...thought I..."how cool that a man would be bold enough to wear an apricot scarf?" Aw heck, I loved Carly, even when her lyrics made no sense. And believe you me, those lyrics made no sense to me that late December night in 1972. If anything they made me think, but not for long. Maybe I was vain. Hmmm.
And that was when my car started sliding sideways towards a snow-covered, tree and brush-lined, ditch that ran along the side of that dark country road. I have no idea where that little white Pot o' Gloss, I'd been so carelessly holding in my hand while I drove, ended up...and I didn't much care...perhaps it rolled itself all the way back to Barnaby Street. But, I do know, that within a millisecond both hands, and eyes, were focused right where they needed to be, and I no longer wanted to feel like I was a racecar driver who wore an apricot scarf on a yacht, I wanted to be me. I wanted to just be me....a girl who worked hard, had a night off, and was going to a party (and back home again) safely that night.
Every distraction was driven into the periphery, and in that instant, all I could think was, "God, please help me." The car fishtailed to a stop, just inches from the embankment. I was shaken, but safe. I placed my hands at 10 and 2, just the way Mr. VanArsdale had taught us in Driver's Ed, and never let my eyes stray from the road as I inched my way towards my girlfriend's parents' house where the party was in full swing.
The rest of the night was uneventful. We played cards, danced, watched the sparkly ball drop in Times Square, and I ended up spending the night to avoid the icy roads.
But, I do think of that night, everytime I hear "You're So Vain." I still want to meet the guy who'd have been bold and interesting enough to wear an apricot scarf in 1972...can you imagine how cool and creative he is today...but more importantly, I want to not be the person who always has one eye in the mirror as she watches herself go by.
I do want to be the person who has her eyes on the road...the road that leads to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God, and with humanity. I want to be the girl who is more concerned with how she makes people feel about themselves...their promise, their gifts, their purpose in the world...than her own. I want to spend more time praying than primping. I want to walk into a party clothed in dress of metaphorical mirrors...imagine some Twiggy or Mary Quant inspired mini-dress made of perfectly clear little mirrors connected with tiny silk threads. And when someone looks in my direction, all they can see is how beautiful they are. I want my presence to be like the sun which doesn't invite you to look at or notice itself, but is content to shed light unconditionally, impartially, irrespectively on "earth and tree and flower" revealing their "beauty, grandeur, order."
The word "vain" means both "futile, empty" and "self-focused." Boy, are those definitions properly paired under that one lexiconic umbrella. Perfect soulmates. When our thoughts are self-centered, they are futile, without any energy, purpose, or promise. The ego would always try to keep us in this space of futility and emptiness where we are at the center of our own universe, and the mirrors are distorted and only lead us deeper and deeper into self-concern, self-absorption, self-indulgence, and self-promotion. It a lonely place.
And as Mary Baker Eddy says, in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, real blessing comes from:
"seeking one's own, in another's good..."
I am discovering, finally...not such a quick study I guess...that the only way to discover what is good about ourselves, is to focus on seeking the good in others, and calling attention to that goodness so that all creation can celebrate it as the presence of God...on earth.
So...Happy New Year...I am looking forward to celebrating it...moment-by-moment...focused on how amazing you are.
can't wait to see you at the party!!
Hopefully, I will be easy to miss...I'll be the girl in the mirrored dress...and, I hope this year you find your best you whenever we're together.
always with love,
Kate Robertson, CS
[*Gavotte: a dance of French peasant origin marked by the raising rather than sliding of the feet]