There was a time,
when you knew you were beautiful.
Before you went to school,
and found out about competitive games and parties, and cliques.
Before you watched TV,
and saw the pretty girls and the handsome boys on the slick commercials,
and before you read the glossy magazines with the shiny ads,
whispering, “you’ll never be good enough.”
You knew you were beautiful,
without ever looking in the mirror.
You could feel it in your quick legs that carried you over the soft ground,
and your strong arms
that lifted you high into the trees.
You saw it in your mother’s eyes, sparkling as she looked at you,
and your father’s smile,
crinkling at the corners, wide, as you told him jokes.
You could tell you were beautiful,
by the way the crows called out as you walked by, “caw, caw, caw.”
And the way the trees bent towards you,
whispering sweet secrets, of autumn and spring.
You knew you were beautiful
because you were clever, and bold, and funny, and brave,
because you had scrapes on both knees,
and your hair shone bright in the sun.
You didn’t need a mirror to tell you you were beautiful.
And you still don’t.
Cover them up, turn them around, throw them away.
“But how will I know what I look like?” you ask.
Oh, you’ll know, in so many ways.
In the way your lover looks at you across the room, with wide eyes and delicate mouth,
and the way your child runs to meet you,
feet racing across the floor.
You’ll know how you look by the way your dog’s tail wags when you walk in the door,
and the way your friends light up when you hug them in the streets.
You’ll know how you look
by the way your strong legs carry you through your day,
and the way your arms reach out to embrace those who need it.
And you’ll know how you look
by the way your bare feet feel on the soft ground,
and by the way your breath falls in time to your heartbeat,
calm, solid, strong.
A long time ago I realized I didn’t need mirrors,
to tell me who I was.
That on extended camping trips and other wild times,
I felt gorgeous,
kissed by the sun, sweaty, strong, brave, and alive,
and when I saw my wavering reflection in puddles or streams,
so pleased with the person gazing back at me.
I realized that in the Old Times,
for most of our days here on earth,
people didn’t have mirrors, other than flickering pools, and shadows,
and must have relied on how others saw them to see themselves.
Must have relied on their own inner wisdom and strength,
to identify themselves.
And I think that must paint the world in a very different way.
If we could only see ourselves reflected,
in the faces that love us,
our friends, our lovers, our families, the wild;
If we measured our beauty not in a cold surface of metal and glass,
but in the warm relationships with the world around us,
of our own beautiful hearts,
things would look very different indeed.
Turn the mirrors around.
Learn to recognize yourself without them,
try to find your self buried under the rubble,
of a lifetime of lies.
There was a time when you knew you were beautiful.
Find it, seek it out, hold it in your hands, and carry it close to your heart.
You are you.
And you are beautiful.
Thank you for listening,