Mirror Me, Mirror You

We humans spend a lot of time watching what others do. This process of people-watching begins near birth when babies watch the humans around them and mimic their actions, sounds, and more. All the keepers of little ones are nodding their heads in agreement right now. Parents can’t even breathe without their kids taking note.

Leadership is also a construct of pretty much every human culture. We hold our teachers, experts, and elders high, looking for them to possess laser-focus knowledge and skills on their specific topics. What an incredible–not to mention lifesaving, at times–mechanism this is, that we have our pilots to fly airplanes, orthodontists to straighten teeth, and building engineers to design skyscrapers.

And it’s also a concept impressed upon us by mass media and brands as they try to convince us that we need what they offer. They try to teach us one’s own self cannot possibly be fashioned from within, that we must do, look, and simply be like something or someone else.

Everyone is watching someone. More realistically, everyone is watching many people.

This watch-learn way has its upsides and downsides, and both are already obvious. The greatest upside is that there are experts out there who can help guide the rest of us down a better path. The expertise of a few can become the shared bounty of many. Downside, what happens when we somehow find our eyes cast upon a person from whom we shouldn’t be learning? Then we end up learning the wrong thing, and human society has plentiful examples of this.

As kids, my brother and I managed to make some decent mischief. When caught–because we were always caught­–our parents would talk us through the problem. I can remember them asking where we learned how to create such trouble. Once in a great while, we’d triumphantly get to explain that we’d imagined it up all on our own. But more often than not we’d say that we’d learned it from the TV, the older neighbor kids, and, occasionally, even them. I can remember my dad’s response when caught in this act of accidentally influencing his kids to be naughty, “Do as I say, not as I do.” It didn’t make sense to me back then, either, and that’s because it was a joke. Like it or not, there is no escaping this mechanism of learning. Franky, I love it, as long as we humans can understand its power–and its limitations.

So, I ask us all to do this: Become a mirror of what you want to see in the world. This idea isn’t my own, of course. How fitting for this conversation. Indian social activist Mahatma Ghandi said, “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.”

Thus, the great and at times heartbreaking inevitability of our humanity is that many people are watching and learning from others right now. When we are correct and incorrect, and in our best moments and worst, at least some eyes are not only on us but also learning from us. What can we teach through our actions today?

Call for Comments

  • How often do you find yourself doing or being something you don’t care for in others?
  • Have you been caught by your kid in the act of doing something you don’t want them to do?
  • What’s one thing you’d like to mirror into the world today?
Meghan Hicks

is iRunFar.com's Managing Editor and the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running.' The converted road runner finished her first trail ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places.

There are 7 comments

  1. Alexandre ROY

    Hello Meghan,

    My name is Alexandre, born in France and living in this country for 8 years now.
    I used to run a lot since I was a kid, I love running, did my first marathon when I was 12 and started to run 100 miles races when I moved to Colorado, making the mountains my playground for hours every day.
    Unfortunately, because of one of my knee, I can not run anymore and it seems that nobody really know what’s going on and can fix it.

    But I want to reach to you because I liked the essay you just wrote and it seems you might understand the situation I’m in right now.

    In the past 2 years I lost my Mom and my wife and I’m alone in this country, an introvert person and very hard for me to open myself to the world and people and even more now. At the beginning, running gave me a little bit of relief but I don’t have that anymore.
    Not my intention to bother you or anybody else, but I’m drowning and drowning day after day in my pain, my solitude, and I’m seeing less and less what life has to bring to me now and the purpose of living.

    I am missing my Mom so much, she was the most precious person in my life, she was giving me the strength and stability I needed and I don’t know how to keep moving forward anymore, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to live anymore.

    I hope Megan it was not to personal and weird to hear all that… I just needed to talk to someone…

    Thank you sincerely for your time.

    Alexandre ROY

    1. Meghan Hicks


      First, I’m emailing you separately as well.

      I’m so sorry for the losses you’ve experienced and the pain and discomfort (physical and mental) that you feel. All that is natural and okay. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing your struggles. It’s a brave thing to do. This whole iRunFar community, the many thousands of us, we’re here for you, even if it sometimes doesn’t feel like it. Here, you are surrounded by people who care. We’ve all got you, Alexandre.

    2. Chris

      What a great topic. More timely than ever!
      I do my best to live my values and stay informed, and act with intention and reason. But at the end of the day, I hope to be kind. I hope to act with kindness and surround myself with kind people. I want to make impressions on people, animals, and the earth that leave them feeling loved. When I run, I want leave a trail of smiles behind me.

      Alexandre, Meghan is right! We are all friends here. Did you see Zach Miller’s amazing article “Craig the Walker”? Maybe while you experience your knee problem, you can switch to walking in the mountains? If not, I hope you know that just because you aren’t running as much or at all, you are no less a part of the wonderful community of trail and ultra runners. I am so sorry for your losses, and I hope that you find solace here and know that you are so valuable. As Ram Dass said “We are all just walking each other home.”

  2. Alexandre ROY

    Thank you Meghan…
    I think that going through that time in my life I would just like to have someone, but not a counselor or a kind of doctor ( tried already that ), not someone who tries to solve a case, but someone who would like to listen to me, sincerely, maybe talk with me and share on other subjects as well, just someone to talk with who maybe would become a friend…


    1. Meghan Hicks


      I think I understand now, and thanks for responding to let us all know. Perhaps someone reading this is also searching for something similar, a friend to talk about issues and other parts of life. Let’s see!

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