We all have a habit of looking in the mirror from time to time don’t we? For most of us, except for a few narcissists who love what they see there, mirror watching time is a time of anxiety. What has changed and how has it changed, we explore; staring hard at our faces looking for the assorted damages our harsh environment and stress factors cause on a daily basis.
But for some of us, the worry is more deep rooted. These are the people who are intensely dissatisfied by their natural features. Why is my nose like this? Why are my lips so thin? And my eyebrows ugh! Wait is that bags under my eyes? My god, I am growing old, is an internal dialogue running constantly in our minds. We all have these doubts-but some of us we just leave it at that. And then there are some, who decide to improve on nature and visit cosmetic surgeons to get that perfect lip or nose or whatever.
Whenever I get such a patient, I do a computerized image analysis and with the facts at hand, I point out that they lie within the probability of perfectly normal, with a little bit of that deviation which distinguishes human beings from each other. We all cannot be plastic copies of each other can we? I try and counsel them, talk them out of surgery, even if it means a loss of income for me, because ethically, I am duty bound to say to them that look although you feel such and such a thing is not right, as a normal other person looking at you, leave alone a surgeon, I can find absolutely nothing out of place in your face. You are fine dammit. Do you still want to undergo unnecessary surgery? Most patients listen to me and drop the idea of surgically correcting themselves.
Some go away to a different doctor and get the surgery done and these are the patients who end up as lifelong clients for those doctors, because they are never ever satisfied, and go for surgery after surgery, trying to make their lives better by improving one after another of their futures. Some doctors oblige and some don’t. It depends on the individual. Let them find their own peace is what I think and I leave them to it. Mine not to judge.
But I do wonder about the people who look into the mirror and hate the person they see. Is it their physical features they hate or is it something else, deeper? And that brings me to what I really wanted to discuss in this post before getting diverted above.
For most of us, there is one other thing we see, when we look in the mirror. A lot of Indian film’s have this scene, where, when you look into the mirror, immediately an identical person pops out of it, who is nothing else but your conscience and he goes about dishing you advice after advice (in some Sivaji Ganesan movies even going to the extent of singing songs about guilt). On seeing this scene I have always wondered if the ancients were right and is our conscience our own inner god, always within us?
One question I hate answering, when I am asked by impolite people who don’t respect personal boundaries is “Do you believe in god?” I never ever give a straight answer to this, for hey, it is none of their business, but to me, to myself the answer would be “well, I want to believe (desperately) that he exists, there is such a lot of evil in this world and if not god, who will protect the good and punish the bad?”
But although I give god the benefit of doubt, I do believe earnestly in the power of a good conscience, that little man who sits inside you and jabbers away all the time and keeps telling “i told ya..but ya’all didnt listen, so suffer” . Every night when I happen to glance at a mirror, this person turns up in front of me and we have a long and meaningful conversation together, discussing nitty-gritty of the day’s events. I am reminded of all the things I goofed up that day and how it is all my fault and I cannot get away with blaming anyone else for the goof-ups. I listen; I listen hard and accept the little mans words, harsh though they may be.
And then finally when he says, OK, don’t worry, taken all in all, you are a good egg only, now go to sleep. Well that is the highlight of my day, to get that from him and to go to bed light hearted knowing that in the things which really mattered I came through on the side of the good. And after such a character certificate from someone who knows me best, I usually sleep the best sleep ever. The sleep of the clear conscience is the best sleep in the world. Do you agree?
(P.S. The other best compliment I had was from one of my patients, a young girl who told me “Doc, your lip’s shape looks soo perfect, can I get one just like yours?” she made my day and needless to say, she was that day’s VIP patient and her entire bill was waived off)