In the Greek myth, poor beautiful Narcissus perishes when he observes his reflection and becomes so fascinated that he cannot tear himself away. His legacy lives on in the embodiment of modern-day narcissists, those people whose empathy and interest can scarcely reach beyond the limits of their own fingertips, and the early-blooming flowers that are among the bravest and boldest in temperate regions.
I wonder if we can understand Narcissus differently? After all, he was searching and studying his reflection in the water. Maybe he was noticing the way the ripples of rain altered his surface, or how fish wandered in and out of his outline beneath the surface. Reflection, self-reflection, and looking inward are abilities that are not often attributed to narcissistic people. Still, The trait I’d often scorned by “serious” people with “better things to do”: it seems to be such a luxury, such a waste of time to some.
But we live in a time of turning-off, of looking away, of body dysmorphia and blanket racism. It seems to me that a little more reflecting would be helpful to us all. Why not take a moment and try to see yourself, with all of your surface ripples and all of your slow deep stirrings? It’s difficult in the way only simple things can be. “If it’s simple, it must not be valuable!” But if you, like me, are aching for some change in this world, we need to do like Michael Jackson and that anonymous poet and look at ourselves first.