what i see

The Stone Angel by Margeret Laurence


“I went in and found what I needed, a mirror. I stood for a long time, looking, wondering how a person could change so much and never see it. So gradually it happens…

Only the eyes were mine, staring as though to pierce the lying glass and get beneath to some truer image, infinitely distant”

(Laurence, 143-144)

Say: Marvin, Hagar’s eldest, has just left to fight in the world war. Hagar refuses to admit it, but she does care deeply for Marvin as she does with John. She was so used to it being her two little boys in her home, but she feels that Marvin has taken a piece of Hagar with him to the coast. With Marvin away, the remaining family was forced to work harder than before. Hagar recalls it was Marvin who delivered the eggs to earn some money, but now it was up to her and John to deliver them. John was far too young at the time, so Hagar accompanies him. We’re introduced to a young girl and her family, and Hagar gets to talking once the eggs are delivered.  She talks about Simmons’s success and belittles it down to mere luck and sufficient management. The comment offends John, and he tells him to ‘shut up’. Hagar is caught off guard and Laurence cuts to her visit to a Rest Room. She finds a mirror in a room and examines her face. Seeing the wrinkles and signs of aging, she is concerned with how fast the passage of time has moved.

Mean: This quote exemplifies the flaws in Hagar’s facade. Pride was the barrier that shielded her from emotions or the commitments that came from forming relationships with others. It was this pride that kept her distant enough from others where she knew that if their time came to pass, she would never shed more than a few tears. Laurence’s choice to cut immediately to the Rest Room conveys the haste Hagar must display in order to escape the impact of what John had said to her. The reader does not see her reaction to the comment, as it may be something that put John in a higher power than his mother. This insecurity is hidden away. In addition, the quote is an example of how Hagar’s character arc has shifted as a result of living the way she chose to. In an earlier passage, she looks in a mirror to see her eyes. As an adult, she can’t help but ignore her eyes and focus on the coarseness of her skin.

 Matter: How I look at myself has shifted through the ears. As I write this, my right cheek has fallen victim to a few imperfections as a result of my unclean pores. I notice now that my eyes are exhausted from last nights struggle for rest. However, these flaws bother me less as I age. When I wake up in the morning to wash my face, what I see first are my eyes. They may be tired and worn, but the only thing I associate with their condition is the fact that I am alive. My body may be stiff and restless, but my mind is rejuvenated with all the positive energy in the world. Before the summer of 2018, all I could ever focus on was my appearance and never my soul. But after months of mental strength training, I found myself breathing in a manner different than before. With each inhale, I would taste the happiness of others; every exhale expelled all the bad energy I had built up for nearly 16 years of my life. This shift in my mind caused my heart to skip a beat every morning I stepped outside. Of course, not for another, but for each day of the week. No matter what.

4:00 AM…

My body moves on its own at this time, as my mind is yet to escape the memories of my dreams. There are times when I can recall my dreams, and when I do remember, I see vivid images of a life better than the one I live in. There is a sudden splash of water that makes contact with the delicate pores on my skin. Ice cold. Just the way I like it. My mind awakens, and all my thoughts return from their previously lethargic state. Of course, I am reminded why I wake up so early in the first place. However, the first image my brain interprets from the light that shuns through my eyes; reflects on me.

I ignore the abundance of imperfections on my face. The blackheads sprinkled across my oily complexion, they mean so little to me. I can’t help but notice my eyes, however. Their gentle softness and sleep-deprived bags. I look closer and see the shadows in my pupils and the rings of oak that surround them. These eyes of mine, hold so little experience, yet appear to have aged through every notable event in human history.

I smile and breathe a sigh of gratitude. I am alive.

Once more I emerge my skin in water that rises to my neck and eases my muscles from the stiffness of the old mattress. It is here I usually let my mind wander. I have always been a thinker my life, and to let my mind go brings me great relief. From time to time, I sing a new tune to myself. A new habit I picked up from people who inspire me.

My body, now pure, moves with haste and the utmost grace. The ice water rejuvenates, while my mind illuminates. My outfit of the day is the same as always: White Polo shirt with navy blue pants, a pair of white socks that barely reach my ankles, a hideously coloured tie, and a blazer for confidence. Next, I mind to the bareness of my wrist with a watch as the only necessary remedy. While I adjust the watch’s leather strap, I tell my mother ‘goodbye’ as I embrace her for what I hope will never be the final time. After all, it was she and father who bought it for me.

Suddenly, I am reminded exactly why I wake up so early in the first place: Celebration!

Yes, I have wanted magic all my life, and only now do I see it was methodically placed in every corner of my life. Each spell and trick another wonderful thing to be celebrated!

The light that my eyes reflect bounce of my retinas like a star, and I feel my heart skip a beat. No, not the kind of beat skipped for a loved one, rather a beat missed for the love I have for a Tuesday or any other day of the beautiful week.

My shoes on and neatly polished as the smile on my face frees my soul from the limiting possibilities home contains. With my first steps outside, I breathe in a breath filled with all the positive energy the universe is filled with and I begin my journey through another day of infinite love and gratitude.

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2 thoughts on “what i see

  1. Dearest Tim,

    I really loved this deep dive into a section of a whole. The detailed way you wrote about an act so simple as waking up, helps the reader focus on the “why” of things. We all know that we wake up, wash our faces, hug our mothers, but we often don’t realize why. I found your descriptions shed new light on old habit, and remained out of the way of cliche. I also appreciated your analysis. The quote focuses on the shift from young to old age, and the physical characteristics that come with that. But you made it more understandable by equating it to the teen face.

    My only critique is to run over your piece and check for spelling and punctuation errors. For example, in the first line of Matter you are missing the “y” on years. But other than that, an awesome piece.

    I’m so grateful I get to know you better this year, as you seem like an amazing and talented guy. I’ve really loved what I’ve seen from you before, in both theater and writing, and I can’t wait to see more.



  2. Dearest Tim,

    I just want to start off by saying: I’m SO impressed at your shift in mindset and attitude from last year to now. This change is extremely noticeable not only in the way you interact with others, but the way you carry yourself. As I had said about Faith’s TED Talk, and how she had served as a firm reminder to my own journey of self acceptance, being in the same family group as you is a reminder for me everyday to keep my head up; thank you for that!

    In this blog and your presentation, I loved how you were able to fluently incorporate the say, mean, and matter. Nothing was chunky or lacked depth, and to me, everything was put in for a purpose. Furthermore, I’ve seen a dramatic change in the clarity you communicate your thoughts and the improvement of diction within your writing – I LOVE THAT. For instance, in your emulation; the imagery, “light that my eyes reflect bounce of my retinas like a star”; or the saying, “These eyes of mine, hold so little experience, yet appear to have aged through every notable event in human history” (GOSH – that was touching); or in the “matter” section, “my right cheek has fallen victim to a few imperfections”. And so many more instances that pulled at my heart strings. Lastly, the positivity and hopefulness that you maintained throughout your emulation was deeply touching.

    In terms of improvement, I would recommend to look over your piece for spelling errors. For instance, in the “say” section, you spelled “We’re” as “We;re”. Also, I would re-word some sentences in the “say” section that are a bit word-y.

    Thank you for your positive energy and the rawness you’ve expressed not only within this piece, but also in person.


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