What are mirrors for? Technically, they are made to refract light, or reflect whatever is in front of it. However, if you ask anyone what a mirror is for, they will (more often than not) tell you that a mirror made so you can see what you look like. Mirrors can be used for so many things other than to show the reflection of an onlooker, and indeed have so many more useful purposes. Somehow, though, it is the task that they are most associated with.
My personal natural tendency is to ignore this fact, interesting as it is, but now I feel the need to ask, “Why?” Now that this is the topic of discussion, I suppose we must go deeper. Why, despite the many useful purposes a it can be used for, is a mirror most used (or at least associated) with being a tool for looking at one’s self?
To answer this we must question motives. Two particular motives for using a mirror really seem to formulate nearly every possible reason to look at one’s own reflection in a mirror. They are Vanity and Self-consciousness. Vanity because vain people need to look upon their own glory every once and a while and Self-consciousness because self-conscious people need to know just how bad off they are.
At first glance, vanity and self-consciousness seem to be opposites. Vanity is “excsessive pride” in one’s self, and Self-consciousness is to be “excessively aware of being observed by others”. Vanity is pride, and self consciousness is awareness. Both are excessive. Now that I’m already this far, it wouldn’t hurt to meditate more on the thought- so I can’t help but ponder the connection between these two attributes. They are each so much the reverse of the other, vanity and self-consciousness, yet they are both so alike. Both vanity and self-consciousness demand assurance. This is why they work so well with mirrors. A mirror is a sort of assurance for anyone suffering from one of these ailments- at least it provides the truth.
I don’t know for sure, and please go off and formulate your own opinions, but I suggest that maybe vanity and self-consciousness are one and the same. Two sides of the same coin. They are both a half of a two headed monster; each one as deadly and venomous as the next.
I have always thought that self-consciousness is the more noble of the pair… that it is less prideful, perhaps. But now I see that it is just as dark of a hole as vanity. Both attributes are equally evil and destructive, and also prideful. Both self-consciousness and vanity are pride, and both need assurance to survive.
The real main use for a mirror is not to look at yourself, or anything like that. The main use for a mirror is assurance.