The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Self-esteem is important. Caroline Myss, an author and teacher whose work I have followed for years places self-esteem at the top of her list of things that make for a whole and healthy human being. As an educator, I come across notions of self-esteem that are in themselves broken and even less capable of helping a child become a whole, healthy adult. This broken notion is that self-esteem means never having to confront something difficult because a difficulty will make you feel bad about yourself.
Walcott understands authentic self-esteem. It comes from looking in the mirror and embracing who we are (including all the “stuff” that we have routinely hated about ourselves). At the same time, this gaze into the mirror dares–because it’s a real risk–to believe that everything is possible for this one who looks back at us. Still. Despite the stuff. After the self-hatred. This one in the mirror deserves a good meal, a good drink, some good company. This one in the mirror should be honored at a feast.
Because the one in the mirror dared look, dared show up, dared smile back at the one who gazed into the glass.