In Jordan Peele’s 2019 psychological thriller ‘US’, Adelaide Thomas stumbles upon a dilapidated hall of mirrors and encounters her doppelgänger hidden away in the shadows. Familiar on the face of it, staring back at her reflection whilst recognising that there is something slightly amiss is an unsettling feeling because it is not the monster that she expects. It is difficult to fear an image that you know all too well, but you can become fixated on those imperceptible differences which make you doubt whether this is all real. Same, but different. Home, but re-arranged.

I too am uneasy with my own reflection. I broadly see the same face that I have always seen and grown accustomed to. I am more weathered and tired under the eyes than I used to be, and it’s hard not to transplant the image in front of me with a more fresh-faced iteration of myself. How young and free of strife the edges of that smile used to show, and how heavy the worry now weighs on your skin. They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul and, through mine, I can momentarily see a different man flickering in the gaps between the light. A gaze places me back right into those ill-fated points in history where that old face had become unrecognisable to me, once capable of carrying out terrible things. It is often the only time that we catch ourselves unwittingly having to confront our faces, knowing the things that they have thought and done, concerned at the secrets and insecurities they are keeping from us. Does the person in your line of sight marry up with the essence deep inside desperate to be heard and to be taken seriously for once? How much longer can you ignore the image staring back at you?

Whilst that person does not reside in this vessel anymore, I have his eyes and now carry the weight of his guilt on his behalf. I cannot paint over the canvas that he polluted, but I have slowly chipped away at the rough edges and jagged imperfections. In moments of desperation after I had accepted that I needed to leave begin a corrupted version, it felt as if I was tearing myself apart, which worried me whether there would be anything of that familiar face left at the end of this gradual exorcism. I now know that the rebuild, the restructure, the re-sculpting of a new man that displays integrity and valour requires suffering as I am ‘both the marble and the sculptor’ in the words of Alexis Carrel.

I am not evergreen, but ever-changing. A living mould, a Nestene Consciousness of growth and evolution. I should not frown at the small, unrecognisable contours of my changing face for fear of an underlying fault or beast within; I should recognise that it is the chipping away of the rock, the shedding of the ongoing chrysalis that I am witnessing in the mirror every day. I am to embrace it.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.