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June – July 2024 : Reflections READ ONLINE


Learning from Narcissus

June 01 2024

In the age of mindfulness, wellbeing and mental health awareness, the power of reflection and the need for individual reflection needs to be understood and appreciated.
By Leon Eckford

My grandmother had a picture in her bedroom as I grew up, which was of a porcelain-faced young woman looking into a pool of water surrounded by the most beautiful ornate garden.

You could assume it was an image that showed the definition of narcissus, where Narcissus himself was a figure from Greek mythology who was so impossibly handsome that he fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.

You could have also asserted that the girl was looking for an identity in the water below, where she did not see the ethereal beauty beaming back at herself. During my journey into rehabilitation for opiate addiction, this was my reading of the girl staring into the pool. For me, it was seeing the bottom of the pool as the surface level fascia that the reflection presented was unrecognisable and disturbing.

Sometimes, I could just about stomach what beamed back at me, all greying hair, yellowing teeth due to years of smoking, laughter lines stained with the experience and the universality of loss, grief, suffering, relationship breakdown and the host of other psychosocial turbulence that we as human beings encounter.

Oprah, Gwyneth Paltrow and other Hollywood self-help gurus are able to breathe this away in their private gated utopias. How can they tell someone living under a bridge in LA or sleeping in a piss-soaked alleyway in Whitechapel to develop a mantra in the spirit of self-healing? But there is something in reflection.

Now when I think about that picture of the girl, I believe she looks in the pool, she sees her beauty, but the world does not recognise it as it is too busy getting on with its own mechanisms – more important and fundamental than her own self-perceived suffering.

Ultimately, the journey of self-discovery is deeply personal and nuanced. While societal influences and external pressures may shape our perceptions, true understanding comes from within. It's essential to cultivate empathy, resilience and a sense of purpose to navigate the complexities of life with authenticity and compassion.