The mirror, propped against the wall of the long-deserted cabin, was filthy. Thirteen years of layered dust covered the entire surface, including its golden, elaborate frame. Other stuff lay about, including an antique dining table, which, tipped over onto its side, had one of its legs broken. I looked around the room and mused on how long it had been since anyone had entered this place, wondering who had been the previous owner of this mirror, which I thought about taking home with me. Cleaned up, it might decorate a wall nicely. However, I have very little wall space in my small cabin, and besides, the person who had left it might remember the mirror. I could not justify taking it, even though I know this mirror is forgotten and now belongs to this place we call Windemere. Still, it was once a nice mirror. Were I to clean it up, I could probably get at least seventy-five dollars for it. I turned to go, back through the “mud room,” which also had stuff scattered about on the floor. With mixed feelings, I left.
As I walked up the drive, away from the cabin, through the overgrowth, stepping over a tree that had fallen during the ice storm four years previous, I realized my emotional reaction to seeing this place once again was not as strong as it once was. Back when the residents of this cabin left, abandoning a lot of this stuff, including the trash littering the surrounding woods outside the cabin door, I felt a twinge of disappointment that they were gone. Part of me wished, back then, to call them and ask them to please come back and clean up the mess they left. I never did call them. For the next several years, whenever I drove past the driveway, I felt a mixture of sadness, disgust, outrage, and disillusionment at how it might have been and how it had actually ended. They would never return, and they did not return because they knew they would not be welcome.
This weekend a big garage sale is happening in the town 34 miles away, and my friend invited me to bring some stuff I no longer want, to see if any of it might sell. I thought this sale might bring me some money for that mirror. I went through my cabin, gathered up about fifteen items, and delivered them to the garage sale site. It occurred to me that were anything to sell, it would barely cover the cost of gasoline to town and back. My friend was so enthusiastic about the sale; I decided to participate, despite my aversion to garage sales in general. Once there, I helped reorganize the two rooms that had all kinds of stuff available for sale. I priced and listed the items I brought. I was probably asking too much for my things, but most of the higher-priced items were practically brand new.
Another woman was supposed to be helping with the sale, and she kept bringing in bags full of clothing, all in good condition. She indicated she hated to be getting rid of these clothes, as she “loved” her clothes. However, she said, she had too many clothes and needed the money. I helped her hang up the assortment of dresses, blouses, skirts, underclothing, all small to medium sizes. I saw a lightweight brown jacket that was reversible. I tried it on and it fit. The faux down made the jacket feel nice and cozy. I asked her what she wanted for it and she did not seem to know how to answer. I wore it about for a bit, thinking how I really did not have any money with which to buy it. She told me she had “just bought it,” and when I asked her what she paid for it she told me “$98.” I was astounded. How could someone who claimed that they needed money and thus was selling their extra clothes, afford to pay that much money for such a simple, ordinary jacket, “just the other day.” I asked if she would be willing to trade, and she began to describe a mirror. She wanted it for her dining room wall (in her government-subsidized apartment). I remembered the mirror out at Windemere, the one I considered taking and selling. It fit her description of what she wanted. I told her about the mirror, including the fact that the mirror did not belong to me. I would have to consult with the other members of Windemere to see if I could have the thing.
The afternoon passed quickly, and the more I thought about the jacket, the less I wanted it, especially after my friend took me aside and told me she was certain this woman never paid a penny for this jacket. My friend told me that this woman volunteered at a thrift store and probably got many of the things she was selling free. No wonder the woman had said, “Oh, just take the jacket. I am giving it to you since I already have five (she held up five fingers) coats and I don’t need it!” She told me this several times, and by the time we were all leaving, I decided that the jacket was not worth more than thirty dollars, and told her this. She mentioned earlier how she gained so much weight in the last six months and that she would like to lose it. I had with me, in my vehicle, a box of Herbalife product from the days, a few years back, when I was a distributor. Inside the box, I found several new, unopened bottles of supplements that claimed to help suppress ones appetite and give energy. I knew these sold for at least $10 per bottle so I took three of them, along with some samples of the Herbalife skin care product. I gave these to her and explained how they could help her drop some weight, especially if she was to pay closer attention to her diet, avoiding too much bread and potatoes, replacing them with dark, leafy green vegetables. She thanked me, and told me how she was glad to meet me, that I reminded her of her mother, who was “strong, straight-up and to the point.” We hugged, and I got in my car and left, the jacket tossed in on top of my Herbalife product. Later on, the next morning, I spoke with my friend who reassured me that the exchange was more than fair.
It is strange to me when people lie about anything, and it is always troubling to me. You would think that currently, when so much information put out by the media and many politicians is untrue, that one would feel no surprise at the propensity to lie. However, those I consider my true friends, I believe, would never lie to me. I despise lying. However, I have to often remind myself that I must not judge others, and if I suspect one is lying to me, to let it go and simply disassociate. I waste myself thinking about the goings-on around this planet. If I am not careful, I experience depression and disillusionment due to my own thought processes. I see every exchange I have with anyone as a kind of mirror, and search myself to be certain I am being true. Granted, many do not see life as I do, but fundamentally, all that matters is how I see myself. If I can speak to another truthfully, then I know there is a chance they will see themselves more clearly, perhaps, if they are at all awake. Sometimes the mirroring happens through layers of dust and grime, ones conditioning and fear, but in the end, to mirror one another may help someone to wake up and see more clearly. I may never go get that mirror that leans against a wall in a dilapidated cabin, but I know it is there, and I know I must keep my own mirror as clean as possible. Although the reflection in the mirror is an illusion, knowing myself is the closest I may come to being a true reflection for another.
Today is the last day of the sale. My friend is there alone, and I am considering going to town to help her. It is a sunny day, and might be better spent working out in the garden or cutting firewood. If I call my neighbor and tell him my thoughts about taking that mirror to the sale, he will probably tell me it is fine with him if I want it. Thus far, I have sold a big $14 worth of stuff, barely enough to put gas in the car, which I need. If I take the mirror to town and clean it, maybe someone will buy it for a decent price, and use it. Most people like a nice, polished mirror through which to view themselves. Maybe my friend will have her friend there helping, in which case, I am sure she will want the mirror. If she does, I will probably share with her all the thoughts I have had about the mirror and, in my view, its significance. Will she buy it? I might just give it to her.