The Mirror of Erised Test
The Mirror of Erised is a magical mirror from the Harry Potter series of books and films. You can familiarise yourself here.
It does not simply show one their reflection.
Harry’s friend, Ronald Weasley, looks into the Mirror and sees himself achieving sporting and leadership glory at their school, clearly jealous of his older, high-achieving brothers.
Harry on the other hand sees his parents, who died protecting him when he was young, standing beside him. The two can’t make sense of their differing visions.
It takes the intervention of the wise school Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, to fill Harry in on the mirror’s magic; the Mirror doesn’t just show them a physical reflection.
It shows them what they desire most.
Dumbledore imparts to Harry one final piece of wisdom. The ‘happiest’ person in the world looks into the Mirror of Erised and sees only their reflection, exactly as they are now, with no desires.
Erised backwards is ‘Desire’
At time of writing I think of desires like heavy, leaky jars. We lug them around, they make our existence burdensome, and we foolishly try to fill them – though they leak, and never stay full. Thus we find ourselves on a treadmill.
You do not solve the problem of your leaky jars by trying new ways of filling them – you drop the leaky jars, and your existence becomes lighter. You are not tethered, anchored to or weighed down by them anymore.
I’m not on a mission to convince people to become more than they are. I’m on a mission to convince people that they are enough as they are right now.
What a powerful word. Enough.
Who are you trying to impress by showing how many heavy, leaky jars you can carry? Why care about impressing others, or even ourselves for that matter?
Being enough does not mean one has to become a Buddhist monk or hermit. But I would argue, when pursuing things from a base of self-acceptance, one can begin to unlock the real achievements in life. Access the true rewards – not the phony images we see in the Mirror. How ironic. How paradoxical.
What I see in the Mirror of Erised.
I look into the Mirror of Erised, and I see a young man, aged twenty-six years old. He has come a long way in life so far. He is happily typing on his laptop, with a shelf of books behind him.
But in his eyes I can see him thinking. I can see a vision of Gillage, of a different future, of a transformed world.
To be frank, to be transparent, he is not alone in his reflection. In the background I can see what he desires – a version of the world where he has helped people understand what he has come to understand. He has helped them ‘get it’.
Apart from that, he is light on desires right now. But instead of trying harder to make people ‘get it’ and understand him, instead his focus is on letting go of this desire – being ok with the fact that he can’t help many people at all, but that despite that, life is well.
That he is doing enough, by doing all he can. And this allows him to search for his role, his duty, rather than the story where he is the hero. Because rarely are the two the same thing.
What do you see in the Mirror of Erised?