Friday, February 24, 2017

THE PERFECT SPECTACLES

THE PERFECT SPECTACLES (work in progress)
COPYRIGHT JULY 2017
Wisdom Digest Publishing
Thomas Trost Braun Senior
ALL COMMERCIAL RIGHTS RESERVED
PRINTED IN THE USA
You may copy for non-commercial use

   

 I entered the optical shop to purchase new spectacles.  As of late I have become aware that my vision has changed.  Nothing is quite as clear as it once had been. The shop is old.  I cannot recall seeing it.  The gentleman at the counter looks equally old.  His white beard nearly touches the center button on his coat.

“Good afternoon sir.  I have come seeking new spectacles.  They must provide a perfect view, lacking every distortion.  They must be the perfect spectacles.”
  
“There are many eyeglasses to choose from,” he says, smiling, and then points to a long shelf absolutely overflowing with them.
  
I give them a brief look.  “I feel there is a perfect pair I must obtain, but I do not think them to be among this selection.”
  
“Perfect spectacles, with lenses true.  Yes,  I have them, but a note of caution, a warning, if you will.  Not everyone can wear perfect spectacles.  Let me show you what is available.”
  
As he turns to obtain them, his words, ‘Caution! Warning! Come fully to mind.  I wonder at the old man’s meaning?
  
He reaches beneath a counter and lifts a wooden case and delicately sits it on the table before me.  He draws out a chair and I sit down. I look at the box.  It appears ancient, its surface ornate, intricate with carvings.
  
Then, quite tenderly, the old man presses his index finger on the center of the lid, as if in a precise spot, and quickly withdraws his hand.  The lid rises of its own accord.
  
I am not at all certain, but it seems that as the lid rises I hear voices, familiar voices.  I attempt to discern them but then too quickly my attention is drawn to the three spectacles resting in separate compartments lined in red velvet.  As the lid fully opens a gold framed looking-glass comes into view.  Its clarity and depth are enchanting, mesmerizing.

With great difficulty I look away from the looking-glass to speak to the old man, but he is gone, which is just as well for my attention is immediately and fully drawn back to the looking-glass, and the spectacles.

The spectacles are displayed in two rows of three, one row above another. At first I am drawn to the sixth one at bottom right and am reaching for it when my hand, without a thought from me, moves towards the fourth pair at bottom left. Then it is that I realize there are but three spectacles in the box. They appear as six, but it is an illusion of the looking-glass, which I suppose is made more acute by my poor vision.

With great care I remove the first spectacles and turn them about, examining them and looking through them  at a fair distance from my face. Suddenly they jump out of my hands and situate themselves over my eyes and instantly my attention is pulled into the looking-glass.
  
2            

 I am horror struck.  I am looking at me.  Not as I am at this moment, but as I had been in times past.  I am seeing familiar faces and hearing familiar voices, voices in anguish, loved ones in pain, in pain because I am inflicting it upon them, with great passion, my personal hate and anger.

The scenes encompass every dreadful sight of my past.  The horror of it as I relive the judgments with which I torment not only the ones I love, but all who fall under my vehement tongue and deeds.

But that was not the whole of it, for I see that in my supposed righteous hate and righteous anger I did instill in them fear, and more so in myself.  With my clouded view of life and my narrow vision and false perspective, I see the misery and the pain that are my gifts to those I love, and all others, and no less myself.  I am judge and jury of all things, and but for the law, executioner.  My judgments of the world, and man in it, has assured my misery, and all this because I had been looking through less than perfect spectacles, those dreadful spectacles bequeathed to me at a tender age and then loved by me for so many years now past.

And then, as quick as it had begun, the spectacles drop from my face and into my hands.  And just as quick I return them to their resting place and draw back from the looking-glass.

I have looked painfully into my past. It is a poignant reminder of how I had viewed the world, and as a consequence, how I had treated others and what I had been and what I had done.

I look about desiring to speak to the old man, but upon that very thought and again without my consent, my hand moves toward the box and retrieves the spectacles at my far right, the first I had intended to look through.  And then, as before, the spectacles jump from my hand and attach themselves to my face, and immediately my attention is fully drawn in by the looking-glass.

I am not displeased with what I am seeing through these spectacles as reflecting in the looking-glass.  It is quite complimentary, really.  It is again showing me, to me, but it is not revealing my distant past as before, but rather, as I am now.  I am free of the curse of judgment, of judging people, places and things as if I knew all things, and I have but slight opinions.  My love is greatly expanded, and no less, my charity and gratitude.

I am seeing more clearly than before.  I am viewing life through an improved perspective, though lenses more true, and, if you will, through spectacles less distorted, less clouded, and brighter.  Yet, even so, I wonder at it, for there is evidence in me of a slight discontent. I cannot discern its cause.

I continue looking into the looking-glass and see that the change in my view of life, is not in life, but in me.  Yet how it came about was not at all clear to me, that is, until I saw the path I had traveled.

In seeing my past I realize that my journey has been filled with great personal pain, sorrow, anguish and regret.  As I view my own suffering, I see that a time had come when I had concluded, “I have suffered quite enough!”   Then it was that I rejected the things that had caused my pain.  Indeed, I also rejected the false happiness that accompanied it, the pretense of happiness.  As I look on I see that as soon as I stopped expecting people to value what I value, appreciate what I appreciate, think the way I think, believe the way I believe and act the way I act, my love for them increased greatly, and my joy.

But my greatest personal peace was not fully realized until I no longer needed, wanted or desired people to be different than they are, at any given moment in time.  I came to understand that a person cannot be what he is not, cannot be but who he is.  The truth is clear to me now.  For if a person can conducts himself different, he would conduct himself different.  As always, the event reveals the person.

Suddenly the looking-glass releases its hold upon me and I return the spectacles to their proper place.

I look up and see the old man standing at my side.  He smiles at me, and I at him, and he says, “Perhaps you would like to try on one of the spectacles in the looking-glass.

I look at him in astonishment, and then quick as an eye-blink I am drawn back to the looking-glass just in time to see my hand reach into it and pick up the spectacles furthest to the right.  However, before I can actually grasp them, I am fully pulled through the looking-glass.

3


As I overcome my absolute astonishment at the sudden turn of events, a thought comes to mind, if seeing is believing, then experiencing is knowing.  Yet here I stand not knowing what I am experiencing, and as for seeing, there is nothing to see, so there’s nothing to believe.  It is all whiteness, as if I had opened my eyes to the sun and had been blinded by it.

I decide to wait.  I wait some more.  Still nothing.  This is very strange.  I have been pulled through a looking-glass and there is nothing to look at.  Again I wait. I am not afraid, though I certainly do not know why.  Then I realize that not only is there nothing to see, but there is nothing to hear, not a sound.  It is as quiet and silent as a tomb.  I begin to walk. On what I am walking is beyond me to know.  I do not go far.  I am walking in a small circle, always ending where I began, or so I think, since I am not at all certain from where I began.  I wait in the pure whiteness of nothing, nothing at all-and in the silence.

I do not know the passing of time here, thus I do not know how long since I left the optical shop, though I am not discomforted in any way. I must admit to boredom, for beyond my inquiring of this place, my mind seems unable to reflect upon but little, almost nothing that might have occurred previously, and in fact, I am not sure at all that there was a previously.  I sense I am fading into the light, or rather, merging with it, as if it is a part of me, or I it.

I am trying, or at least I think I am trying, to keep hold of thoughts, but it seems the longer I am here, the less of them there are to get a hold of.  It is as if I am being erased.

 Words failing fast.  Imagination, gone. Reflecting, gone.  Feeling, gone. Breathing, gone.  Everything, gone. Nothing. Nothing.  Nothing.

“Welcome back,” says the old man.

I start at this words.  I am again sitting before the looking glass.  My faculties slowly return, yet I dare not look into the looking-glass again.  I keep my eyes solidly set on the old man.

“What occurred?” I asked.

“Nothing.  Nothing at all,” He laughs.  “Is it not the same with life?  Think nothing and nothing happens, or rather, nothing appears and nothing but nothing is experienced.  The value of not thinking is like the value of sleep, refreshing, no thoughts, no something, no pain.  Just endless peace.  Very refreshing.”

“That is rather flippant.  It was not as entertaining as you might suppose.”

“My apologies.  Yet there is great value in the stillness of silence, and in humor, as you will see.”

“What do you mean, ‘As I will see’?”  I ask, not soothed at all.

“It is difficult to explain the spectacles.  They reveal what they will.  Thought I suspect they give what is needed, though how they know what that might be, I do not know.  And their humor is equal to your own.”

“Humor perhaps, but for whom?  I did find it interesting, the silence, the nothingness, that is...until I disappeared.  That was vexing, though how I knew that at the time I do not know.  But I know now quite fully.   My state of mind is such that I doubt somewhat that I shall find the perfect spectacles I seek, here.”

“You have but tried three spectacles. Perhaps what you desire will yet appear.  Seldom, if ever, to my remembrance, has anyone left disappointed.  I will leave you to your decision.”

4

As I reflect upon what the old man said I feel a keen desire to turn and again face the looking-glass.  I am not at all comforted by my desire, yet perhaps, if I control my mind, it will go well.

I am being most careful with my thoughts, keeping them in check, lest they usurp me again and cause my hand to rise and select a pair of spectacles I have no mind to select.  As a guard against it, I firmly hold my arms at my side, grasping the chair’s edge.  But to no avail, for as I turn to look at the spectacles I cannot resist the center one in the box.  And, as sure as twice previously, it attaches itself before my eyes (a comfort almost, for apparently I am not be drawn through the looking-glass as before, or so I hope). I direct my eyes to the looking-glass.

I see a cloudy haze, darkening, much like a cloud filled sky before a summer storm.  A slight fear takes hold of me.  And then, in an instant, the haze becomes as I fear, a storm, and it grows in violence.  The sky blackens and lightning flashes.  I hear the thunder.  It is frightful, yet it draws me near.  I cannot explain it.  I watch the storm’s display, but after a time, I think it might disperse, and at the thought, the sky clears and the sun shines bright in a clear sky.  Most interesting.  I wonder if it will again brew a storm if I think upon it.  I attempt it, but no, no storm, not even an inkling, not even a puffy summer cloud.  The sun continues in its brightness, What is this then?

For a time I watch the sun.  Then bored, I desire to know upon what the sun casts its rays.  With THAT thought, the looking-glass shifts to earth upon a meadow lush and full with flowers growing wild.

 How is it that the looking-glass reflects my thoughts one instance, but not another?  Or, is something else afoot?  I will try again, though not quite as cavalier, for I am now determined to understand my thoughts, for what use to repeat failure if perhaps success is but another thought away?

Yes, I think I have discerned it.  The looking-glass reflects not just any thought cast wildly or idly about, but creates only thoughts with great intent or great interest, and only thoughts imbued with great desire, which if so, is not without reason.  For in examining my thoughts previously, when the storm increased at my thought, upon what shown the sun, my interest was very keen, though at the time, I was fully unaware of my keenness.  And as to my intent to see the storm return, it was but an idle thought, a mere whim, an uncaring question, if you will, which produced nothing at all.  I will attempt again to create within the looking-glass.

I hold my thoughts in check, and my imagination as well (no image from me will this looking-glass have).  I lift my eyes and again look into the enchanted mirror.  I see not but myself.  Excellent!  As a final endeavor at seeing my thoughts reflect in the looking-glass, I think most earnestly upon a red rose, an as sure as the thought, it appears,

I am delighted at the game, most entertaining.  I play it for a time, casting thoughts and images, each appearing at my cue.  Interesting indeed that every thought upon which I sincerely and enthusiastically focus, appears.  But then, something goes amiss, a strange event.

The looking-glass, I think has gone quite berserk.  It casts thoughts within my mind and then reveals them in the mirror.  Yet surely they are not thoughts or images of my making?

I see a man walking alone in a forest.  Upon looking closer I see he is seriously disgruntled and upset.  His face has many lines giving him a most mean, if not terrifying look.  He has an ax.  There is blood dripping from its blade.  He is dragging a rope and at its end a sack.  What is in the sack is wriggling and struggling to get out.  With but few steps between he keeps turning his head sharply and casts loud whispers at what is in the sack.  I cannot understand his words.

I am horrified.  He  chopped someone and is going deeper into the forest to finish his work and hide his awful deed?  I cannot suffer to look, nor look away.  I must know the end of it.


5

The man has stopped amidst a thicket dark and deep.  Tree limbs are broad, hang low and intertwine.  If I were not looking down upon him, little would I see.  He drags his sack within a thicket, casts his eyes about as if to see if he is seen.  He scans the tree branches looking for eyes that might be concealed within, and then, as near a striking snake might hypnotize its prey, his eyes lock upon mine.  I freeze.  I dare not move.  Then a thought like a bright light dispelling  darkness strikes me.  How silly of me, it is but a looking glass.  Aaah, true it is, yet.... a looking glass that snatches one into its world

I can look no longer.  Quicker than another thought could come, I slam shut the lid upon the box of spectacles and the looking-glass that surely is from hell.  I am distraught.

At the sound of the slamming lid, the old man suddenly appeared at my side.  “What made you close the box?” he asks, as if I have a tale to tell for his amusement.  I stand up and move a pace away from the table, yet hold onto the chair upon which I sat.  I take a breath and wonder at it all, all that has happened since entering the optical shop.  I look about. It seems to be as any shop like it ought to be, except for that cursed box.  I make up my mind to leave.
 

 “Please, tell me what you saw?” he inquires most sincerely this time.

My words spill out like I have overturned a full bucket, “I saw a man holding an ax dripping blood and a sack which he drags behind him and whatever is in the sack is not yet dead and upon reaching a hidden spot he looks up at me and stares into my eyes.  He sees me.  And I am afraid the mirror will bring me to him”

“What was in the sack,” asks the old man.

“I do not know.  I did not wait to see.  I’m sure it’s frightful.  It is small.  A child perhaps.”

“Please, look again and you will see the end of the matter.  The mirror will not take you in.”

“How is it you know that?  I dare not. Yet…I am profoundly curious.  If you will stay at my side, with your hand upon my shoulder, I will look.”

The old man did as I asked.  Then turning to the box, he presses the lid.  I stay my spot, unmoving.  My eyes are closed.  My mind empty.  I hear the lid rise.  I wait for it to fully open.  I peek slightly, squinting, quickly, then fully open my eyes to see nothing.  There is nothing.  Nothing but my reflection.  I sit down and look fully into the mirror.  I am determined to see the end of it.  And then, with my determination fully resolved, it begins.

The man with ax firmly in hand gathers the rope and stands over the sack untying it.  There is no movement from within.  He pulls the opening apart and the sack drops around a young girl.  She stands up.  By all that I can see she is unharmed.  He gives a hand that she takes and steps out of the sack.  They exchange but a word or two, and then he gathers up the sack and they hide yet deeper in the thickets until I cannot see them.

Almost immediately, upon the path they had traveled, comes a band of what looks to be pirates.  At least they appear to me to be so.  They scour the underbrush, thrashing with swords and yelling as they go.

In short order, they give up the search and walk again the path upon which they came until they emerged upon a clearing near the sea.  Straightaway they are set upon by what appears to be the captain of a ship anchored near.  He yells and gestures in his madness at losing such a prize (the young girl I presume) to a turncoat from among them (the man dragging the sack).  I sigh in relief.  The mirror goes dark and the lid closes of its own accord. 

I thought, how often I mis-read and misjudge things, always to my consternation.   I see and hear and pronounce as if I know, and do it all without knowing all.  Seldom is the truth wholly revealed.  How quickly my mind takes up a tale, a chasing of thoughts, and then concluded motives, intent, and finally, embraces its own misunderstanding as understanding.  I have yet to see clearly.

 True to his word, the old man has remained by my side,  that was, until I sighed in relief when the tale had been told by the looking-glass, and now he is gone. I know not where.  But I am at peace, no longer afraid, yet cautious, for who is to know what may happen next. 

I look at the box.  I press the lid.  It opens revealing the two spectacles remaining and wonder if I should?  My eyes wander about the shop. I briefly look at the clock.  It is broken, I think, for the passing of time is not recorded.  It is set as if I had just entered the shop.  I ponder what to do.  Then I return my attention to the box.  Of the two remaining spectacles, one is to my left and the other is in the center, both within the mirror.  I relish not the idea of touching either one, yet feel compelled.


 6

Just as I am about to reach through the looking glass I hear the tinkling bell above the door announcing another visitor to the shop.  I stop and look up.  It is a young man, perhaps thirty, wearing a rumpled suit that suites him not at all, for it seems twice his size, hanging like old drapes cast thoughtlessly upon a chair.  I almost laugh, but merely smile, yet laugh within.  He is a sight.

The old man greets him with great enthusiasm, much more than one would expect of a shop owner greeting such a poorly dressed, and certainly poor in funds customer, if indeed a customer he is. I pretend not to look, but manage just the same.

The young man has a ruddy complexion, as a worker might who labors less with brain than brawn. The old man greets him, and then the young man seats himself at a table not unlike my own.  I wonder if the old man has another box with which to tease his clientele.  I laugh at the thought.  One such box is surely more than sufficient for a shop this size.

They chatter for a spell, then the old man goes to the front door, opens it and leaves.

I am alone with a stranger, and of course the box. This is frightful.  What should I do? Not knowing what to do, I sit alert and wait, for what I know not.

The young man pays me no heed, for which I am thankful, and I doubt his interest will include one such as me.  Suddenly he leaves his seat and walks to me and asks, “Would you mind greatly if I took a quick look into the looking glass? It will be for just a moment.  I have but one question.”

I do not know what to say as my thoughts run together, "Look into the looking glass, ask a question, what is this box, can it answer an inquiry like a crystal ball?"  I am flustered, and in my agitation I get up without another thought and say (to my surprise) “As you wish,” and move away.  I stand there as a fool knowing not what to do.  I think he noticed.

He sits down, then turns and looks at me, perhaps to see if I am listening.  I pretend not to be, but how can I not?

Satisfied at my deception, he turns towards the mirror and says some words.  I could not hear them, though not for trying.  He keeps his voice too small.  A light flashes in the looking glass, then all goes dark, that is, until he rises, whereupon I see the looking-glass has become again a looking-glass. He thanks me and returns to his seat, and I return cautiously to my seat before the looking-glass.

The door opens and the old man returns carrying a black leather briefcase and gives it to the young man.  He gets up, thanks the old man and leaves the shop.  The old man returns to my side, smiling.

“I cannot refrain to ask,” I say to the old man, “who was that young and frumpy dressed man who you quite left me alone with, and that without any notice at all?”

“I’m sorry.  It was an emergency.  That ‘frumpy; dressed young man, as you call him, owns this shop and many more.  He works among the poor, thus his less than well-to-do attire.  As to my errand and the briefcase, he had me go to his office to obtain some funds for a family in great need.”

“Oh,” was all I could say, feeling again that not only is my eyesight lacking, but my judgments as well.  Perhaps I need more than the perfect spectacles.

“While you were gone, the young man begged a moment to look into the looking glass.  He spoke, it flashed and then went dark.  What of that?”

“I do not know what he saw, not a detail, but I know that through the looking glass he sees the pain and suffering of others, and according to what he sees, he knows what to do that will bring comfort, and then he goes and does.”

“I have been mistaken greatly,” I said, “and were it not for my shame I would not speak a word of it, yet feel to say, I am sorry, for I judge him poorly.”

“It is well,” said the old man. “Who among us sees perfectly with our understanding?  We can do no less, and do no more than to act our part at any time, and time will improve on how we view things.”

“Thank you,” I said.  Feeling slightly improved at his words, I was about to turn and face the looking-glass but was yet thinking about my self-centered dilemma.

I am beside myself.  I feel I am no nearer in my search for the perfect spectacles that at the start, and in truth, further away.  I think I am troubling myself too much in the search.  This box, the mirror, the spectacles, this place, the young man, and now the old man as well, all reveal too much to me of me.  Twice I have been prompted to chastise my thoughts, and in such short order.  I would stop this insanity now, but…there are two spectacles remaining.  It seems a waste to not continue.  My mind drives me so.  It knows no limits.  It must know.  I must know.


 7

And so again I take up the task (for a task it now is) and thus I sit and ponder upon the two remaining spectacles in the looking-glass.  I look at both, equally, so as not to be drawn to either, so as not to be yanked again through the mirror.

However, quite startlingly, I am presented with a dilemma, for as I look at the spectacles within the looking-glass, they disappear.  How can that be? The three spectacles in the box are situated where they ought to be, but no reflection of them whatsoever is in the looking-glass.  It cannot be.  My senses are lost.

I sit bewildered.  Is this my doing?  Have my thoughts been such, so amiss, that I have been rejected even by the spectacles? Even the looking-glass seems disinterested in me, for it’s lively glow has diminished, and amazingly my own interest as well.  It is not nearly as pronounced as it had been previously.

I look left, then right, hoping to see the old man, but as usual he is not to be seen.  I sit slumped in my chair.  It is over.  I am alone.

It is just as well. I must look a pitiful sight.  This is a cursed shop, and I am equally cursed for having ever stepped over its threshold.  And the box–bewitched at best or a devil’s tool.

I sit bemoaning my situation.  Before entering here I had been quite content with myself and the world, but now, now, well, things are different. One cannot return to a place he has left, thinking it will be the same, for one’s thinking is never the same once experience has done its work.  And in my case, my experiences since entering this shop have revealed me for what I was, and though delighted to see into the looking-glass for who I had become, I am now exposed, and the more so, and quickly at that, and quite clearly as well.  I have learned who I yet most surely am, and I like it not at all.

I desire to change, truly, but know not how.  I am a drift, perhaps in a sea of fate, but I dislike so to think of it in that fashion. Is there no help for such as me?

My family, friends and acquaintances, they are not so much different than I, which is reason for our common association and likes, but they are content with who they are, whereas I am anything but content, having seen so much of me, perhaps too much.  What shall I do?

The tinkling bell at the door sounds, pulling me from my joyless thoughts.  I look up, expecting a new face, but it is again the same young man, though this time I know him as the owner of the shop.  He is dressed now extremely well,  suited as a man of his stature demands.  He looks straight at me and walks towards me.  The old man is nowhere to greet him. The young man stops where I am sitting.

“May I speak with you a moment?” He asks most gently.

“Yes, of course,” I reply (I want immediately to apologize to him for my earlier ways, though I had said not a word to discredit myself,  yet I suppose he reads me easily without need of words.  I hold my tongue on that account).

“Earlier you were so kind to allow me a brief look into the looking glass, though you were then engaged with it.  I thank you for that.”

I smile my best smile and say, “It is quite alright.”

“Would you like to know what I saw when I looked within the looking-glass?”

I yell, yes!  Most dearly!  (but not a word passes my lips, not a sound does he hear, not a word of it).  Then, speaking calmly, I merely say in my nicest and in somewhat disinterested tone, “That would be lovely.”

He smiles.  Knowingly, I think.  There is a twinkle in his eyes.  I am discovered, but he is gentleman enough to let it pass without comment.

“I was on an errand most important, and after obtaining what I needed from the looking-glass, it showed me briefly your future, just a portion, which is why I returned.”

I do not know what to make of his words.  What did he see? And why did he see it, and not I? I shifted in my seat.  It has become quite uncomfortable.  What was he shown?  I wait.

“When I looked into the mirror there was yet your essence in it. A consequence of my interrupting you, for which I apologize, again.  I will relate what I saw if you so wish.”

If I so wish!  Of course I wish!  Tell me quickly.  Is it dire?  I said none of that, and merely said, “That might be quite interesting”

“Your future is wonderful.  A bright light to many who yet walk in the darkness of their own minds.  All things past have worked for your understanding, which is greatly expanded and brings you much joy, which joy you share with others just being your wonderful self.  You have many, many joyous days ahead.”

Should I relate to this young stranger my inner thoughts?  Would he understand?  I am not quite as wonderful as he makes me out to be.  If he only knew my pathetic nature that has cursed me so, and others equally.  Yet, I suppose, there has been some improvement.  I keep most of my pathetic thoughts and feelings to myself, well, except when biting my tongue fails it purpose.  Did he see details of my future?  How should I respond to his kind words?  Shall I be honest? And then I blurt out.  “I am not as wonderful as you make me out to be” (my brainless mouth has spoken without me).

He smiles kindly and laughs lightly, not offensive at all, yet revealing.  Can he read my thought as the mirror has done?  Is he wearing clear spectacles that I cannot see, though which he sees me clearly?  He is like the old man who I feel knows too much of me already.  Is there no privacy in this cursed shop?

“You are wonderful in so many ways, and in those ways you think not, they have purpose and serve you and others in ways difficult to understand, but serve none-the-less.  Wherever you go and with whomever you are with, you are serving perfectly, even should your thoughts be contrary.  I must go now.  May you continue to enjoy your journey, for it is long and bright.”  And with those words, he excuses himself most gentlemanly and leaves the shop.

Is that all?  No details?  What future is that, without details?  Journey?  Long and bright?  Poof! Not a thing to grasp, to hold on to.  And now look, he has left and here again I am alone with the looking-glass.  Though all said, his words have soothed my tempestuousness soul, somewhat, as kind words might.

I turn slowly towards the looking-glass.  I can but feel its mesmerizing influence again.  I have no thought now but to continue my quest, for has he not said my journey is to be long and bright.

I peek into the looking-glass most briefly, just enough to see perchance the spectacles have returned.  They have indeed.  Quickly I pull my eyes away.  I will take not a chance.  I will control what is to happen next.

I close my eyes, tight.  I keep my mind empty, nary a thought.  Then, when I feel most assured, I open my eyes and fully stare into the looking-glass at the two remaining glasses.  Ha! Nothing happens.  Good!  It will be as I propose.


 8

I turn my chair away from the looking-glass with every intent of thinking about something with which to tease it.  But I can think not of a thing.  It is as if my mind has gone on holiday without me.  It reminds me almost as if I were back in the whiteness when I previously had been drawn into the looking-glass, when words had failed, even imagination, when there was not an image to be had.  Nothing!  It is almost the same now, except there is no whiteness.

Ah yes, I recall…well…not precisely, but the old man had spoken about the silence, and humor… if I recollect correctly.  Perhaps he was speaking of madness?  Am I going mad? “Think! Think!” I said.  “Think!”  There is not a thought.  Must I repeat again and again my failures.  Is this “not thinking” just more of the same as previous?  The looking-glass must think me a fool.  Perhaps it is so.

I try to think of my early childhood-nothing.  If I am not able to think, I am undone.  What is life without thought?  I try to think of what I like, dislike, love, detest, abhor, fear, relish. Absolutely nothing comes to answer my inquiry.  I am a void.  Surely I am mad.  Can one even live without thinking?   Yet, I am thinking....about thinking, thus I am not without thinking, just without judgment about what I am thinking.  Well…that cannot be all sour cream.

I have concluded that not thinking has value.  It is certainly quiet, even silent, except for my mind’s incessant questions.  It so needs to know, like a pestering child with endless questions.    Silence of mind most certainly would be a cherished holiday.  BE STILL, MY MIND!

I feel not ill at all about not thinking, not now.  It is quite pleasant, really.  I have no unpleasant feelings against a soul.  And no pleasant feelings either.  I have no worries, no regrets, no fears.  I am not anxious, how can I be, ha, I have no thoughts to disquiet me.  This is quite superb.  I am yet alive, or so I think, “Ouch!” yes, a pinch has proven it.

Good gracious, I am free of my mind, or out of it, yet, it is quite pleasant.  I am babbling.  I am bored.  This will not do.  Oops!  I am thinking again, and that without my realization, and with it comes my discontent and my fears, as always they are but a thought away.  Hummm, I shall look further into this matter of not thinking.  I must work upon it.  It seems a useful skill.  No ill feelings stirred, without a thought to stir them.  Banish ill thoughts, and vanishes my ill will and self-destructive feelings.  There is value in not thinking, indeed.  I shall think upon it.

Now what?  Shall I look into the looking-glass?

But if I look now, thinking so little, it will reflect but little.  I think I am not in control after all.

If I reach into the looking glass, will it take me as before, or will I be able to snatch a spectacles undetected.  I know not.  This is a dilemma.  Yet I cannot prattle about all day.  I must decide.

I hold my breath, aim my hand at the center spectacle and thrust it into the looking-glass.

I have it.  I pull my back my hand and the spectacle is in it.  I look quickly into the looking-glass.  I have withdrawn the spectacles on the left.  I must have snatched poorly.  It matters not.  I have it, and it is not as yet attempting to set itself before my eyes as before, though for caution I am holding them at furthest arms reach.

I get up from my chair and move away from the box.  The spectacles are at my side having lowered my arm that they might be out of my sight.  I am holding them ever so tightly. Now what?  Surely they have no value if I do not place them before my eyes. But not so quick.  I am relishing this moment.  I shall walk about the shop.  It is a victory after all.

I step to go to the counter, but there is no counter.  I glance about.  I am not in the optical shop.  It is gone.  I do not know where I am.  All is a haze.  I close my eyes and reopen them, but it is the same.  The shop is gone.  I look about, squinting, and then fully open my eyes.  The haze is becoming something.  Aah yes.  Things are becoming clearer.  I am standing in a meadow, much like the one I had seen in the looking-glass upon which the sun had shown its rays.

This is absurd!  Is there no escape from my own thoughts? Must they all come to life, to fruition through that insidious looking- glass.  And what of these spectacles I yet hold.  I feel to cast them away, yet … what if it is my only passage to return to the optical shop…and my life?

I  sit down on the grass amidst wild flowers in the meadow.  I refuse to participate in this sham.  I shall sit here until something happens.  I came to the optical shop seeking the perfect spectacles and THIS is what I get for my troubles; and I shall not forget all that has happened previously.  “Humph!”  I will sit with my eyes closed.  I shall nap.

I cannot sleep. I look skyward.  The sun is at noon day.  The air is cool as it always is following a summer storm.  “Humph!”  But of course it is, I ordered it so previously through the looking-glass.  Why should it not be?  Why should anything be that I have not decided to be?  Good grief!  Everything is my fault.  This is too much.  I cannot bear it.  It is easier to shift blame and accuse others. But that will not do.  It is as I thought previously, I am undone… again.  If I were to wager, the old man will be nowhere here to be found either.  And the young shop owner? Perhaps.  He has helped me once.

I lay down in the meadow again, not to nap, but to wait.  The flowers’ delightful essence wafts through the air like a cherished gift.  The wet meadow has dampened my clothes.  There are trees to my left, a forest, and the sound of breaking water, and … what is that I hear in the forest?  Voices.  Angry, shouting voices.  I am frozen to my spot, yet know I should conceal myself the more in the high grass.

I listen.  The voices diminish.  The sound is moving away from me towards the sea.  What if there are others?  This open meadow will not do.  I rise up with great effort.  Fear has nearly immobilized me, yet I stumble to the forests edge to conceal myself among the dense undergrowth.  I am in an excellent spot.  No one will see me here.

I hear footsteps.  Twigs cracking, and a dragging sound.  It is approaching.  I hunch down tighter.  It is hard to breath crunched in this fashion.

The footsteps stop.  I dare not look.  I rise slightly and peer through the undergrowth.  I gasp.  I feel to run but cannot find my legs.  It is as well, for my eyes are frozen on the sight.  A rough man has opened a sack and therein stands a young girl.

I am puzzled.  This scene has played before.  I was then but viewing it as in my mind through the looking-glass.  Now it is real and I am there, rather here, or there, who is to know, and I am experiencing it.  Damn my mind for its games!  Must I live my thoughts?  If it is so, I know what is to come next, as sure as my thoughts create it.


9

The rough man gives the girl a hand that she takes and she steps out of the sack.  They exchange words and then he gathers the sack and they hide yet deeper in the thickets until I cannot see them.

All falls silent.  I have not been discovered.  I breathe a sigh, and my tension leaves me as quickly as the thought that created it.  There is a lesson in this, and I was about to think upon it when my mind flies to the glasses.  Where have I placed them?  In my haste to dash from the meadow, I had no presence of mind to recall their disposition.  I search my wardrobe.  They are not upon me.  I will have to return to the meadow.

I listen and look carefully, then I leave my place of concealment.  Now which way had I come?  I am in a tangled overgrowth of intertwining brush and low hanging tree limbs.  I can barely make out anything at all.  I go one way, then another, then back again.  At least I think I am back where I had been hiding.  I am not sure.  My footsteps disappear as quickly as I make them.  I am lost.  I know the meadow is but a brief distance from where I had been, but I cannot find it.  I fear I have gone deeper into the forest.  I no longer hear the pounding surf.

What am I to do?  Without the spectacles I fear I am doomed to stay here.  I want to go home, back to my comforts, back to things I know.

I smell smoke.  I lift my head to the breeze and breathe in.  Yes; smoke; a cooking fire. Mmmmm, there is a stew brewing.  I suddenly realize I am famished.  How long has it been since I have eaten?  I follow the wafting aroma, carefully, quietly, hopefully to its source.  Then I snap a stick.  I freeze.  Even damp from earlier rain the crack of the stick resounds in the stillness like a gun shot.  Then I realize I am no longer alone.  I look without turning my head.  I think my movement has revealed me.  I see nothing, but I feel a presence.  I am afraid. The very hairs on my neck have risen to the occasion.  My breathing quickens though I am trying to control it.  I hear the blood rushing through my ears.  I am hot.  I want to run, to hide, but I cannot, I am stuck.

They are here, the pirates, looking, searching, one is coming at me.  He sees me and yells, yet it is as if he is looking past me at something else.  I turn my head quickly and look behind me.  Has he seen the man and the girl?  I turn my head back to the pirate just as he crashes into me.  I fall, yet…he keeps going as if he has not hit me.  It is as if he went through me, yet in truth, I felt him crashing into me.  I lie upon the ground and hear their yelling and hollering slowly fade within the denseness of the forest.

I sit up.  What am I to make of this?  Am I dreaming, and if so, why did the crashing into me not awaken me.  I have dreamt before, not as vivid, but when a thing occurs that frightens me, I awake immediately.  This must be more than a dream, yet a dream.

Well then, if nothing can harm me in this place, there is nothing to fear.  I shall immediately, and noisily, search for my spectacles.  This world shall have no hold upon me, well, except of course, I have not a clue as to how to leave it.

I pick up a stick and thrash the underbrush.  I am as yet not looking for the spectacles but merely trying to disengage myself from the bramble that pulls at my feet.  I must return to my first hiding place at forest’s edge and retrace my steps to the meadow.  Surely my disturbing of the forest floor has left telltale signs.  I shall proceed slowly.

I would say if asked, that it took me nearly the whole of the day to find again the meadow, but who can tell the passing of time in an illusion, yet the task is accomplished and I am again where I had begun.  I look intently about in the high grass where I had lain.  The grass is yet pressed down, and there, at its edge, lay the spectacles.  I am ecstatic and reach for them when I hear a commanding voice trumpet, “Stop!  Do not move!  Not a muscle.”

I stop moving.  What now?  I am frozen I am sure in a most ridiculous pose, bent half over, one arm reaching into the grass, fingers extended,  the other  arm high into the air behind me–a curious statue in a meadow.  Then I see it, coiled, neck bent, tongue flicking, a black serpent ready to strike.  Then as quick as a flash, a hand dashes between me and the serpent and plucks it up by its tail and moves it away.

Without another thought I seize the spectacles and place them in my pocket and standup to see who my benefactor is.  There is no one here.  I swish about in a circle, looking, but there is not a soul in the meadow but my own.

I saw what I saw, I am sure, but I cannot believe what I saw.  Surely there is no such thing as a disembodied hand, a hand only, no arm, nothing to propel it.

And then the thought, why had I been afraid?  Nothing here can hurt me, if not the crashing pirate, then not the serpent.  But then between my own ears I hear loudly and distinctly, “Are you sure?”         

“Well I certainly was assured,” I yell, “until you disturbed my surety with your question.  Show yourself!”

“I cannot show you what I am not,” said the voice.  “I am but a voice.”

“You were more than a voice when you snatched the serpent.”

 I turn again in a circle to see perchance, to catch perchance, from where and from what the voice had come, but there is just me.  And then a thought, the voice was that of the young man in the optical shop, perhaps.  I am saved once again.

 I am beginning to doubt it all.  I cannot make sense of it.  No serpent?  No hand?  Certainly no body.  I am as mad as a hatter.    More mad perhaps.

I reach into my pocket.  Yes, the glasses are here–real.  But as to the other, was it just of mind?  My fear was real enough.  Had I created the serpent and manifested the hand, as if my mind has such power?  As if my thoughts can do such things?  What then is real, and what is illusion?  Where is one to draw the line?  Or is this all illusion?  Is a vivid dream not life, or is life a dream most vivid–in each it feels physical.

Well … Illusion or not, real or not, matters little, for whatever is of mind is real enough that I must engage it and handle it, for that, apparently, is what my life has become, if indeed it has not always been, which for thinking it, it is entirely possible.  Even my presence in this meadow may not be real or the optical shop for that matter, and now certainly even the spectacles themselves are suspect.  After all, what matters most, what is real or what I think is real, for do I not act accordingly to what I think a thing is, rather than what it is?  And surely the serpent would testify to these truths, for there is no doubt it can talk, if I but think it so.

Then, without a thought to deter me, I take the spectacles out of my pocket and place them before my eyes.  My eyes are closed and I wait to see if the very air about me changes, or the sounds, but there is nothing noticeably different.  I yet smell the flowers fragrance, and feel a slight breeze caress my face.  Yet I wait, eyes closed.  I dare not open them.

I reach up to feel the spectacles.  They are not there.  I open my eyes to see if I have dropped them, but upon doing so I am aware I am seeing through lenses. I lift a finger to touch the glass, and touch my eye instead.  There are no lenses which I may touch, yet my eyes are seeing through them, and I can see the wire frames as well, but cannot touch them.  I bring both my hands to my face and press against my eyes.  I feel my eyebrows, eyes, nose and cheek.  My hands say there is no spectacle there, while my eyes clearly are looking through them.

Out of hand I dismiss the incongruity as consequence of the continued unbelievableness  of  my adventure, and look beyond the lenses, expecting fully to see things unexpected.  I am not disappointed.

I am standing on a dusty road in a desert long, surrounded by distant high barren mountains.  The road stretches before me unto the horizon.  I see no end.  I turn about and look.  It is the same, barren, and the roads know no beginning.  Immediately I feel the scorching heat, and I, without a hat.  If ever I return to the optical ship I shall smash the box, and the spectacles as well.  I have been tried quiet enough.

What on earth am I do in this place?

I reach up to remove the spectacles, but then recall they are there but for my eyes to see and not for my hands to touch, yet I try, regardless, scratching, as it were, at my face to dislodge them, but to no avail.  They are as if mentally implanted and not a physical thing.  My hands drop to my side; my shoulders slump; I am wasted.  I would cry if it wouldn’t fog the damned lenses that are not upon my nose.

I hear music? Is it playing in the breeze?  It ebbs and flows again, as if carried by the waves of heat that brush my face.  It is soft music, as a flute might sound, one of reeds, a wispy alluring melody, a distant sound calling me.  I close my eyes to hear it more acutely and turn my head that my ears might catch from where it comes.  I cannot discern its origin; it is coming as if from everywhere around me.  I am encircled with it.  A sweet sound that conjures up images of dancing, swaying, singing flowers as if they have legs and voices.

I open my eyes.  Things have changed, again, of course.  I am sitting on a wooden bench in a park.  It is a vast flower garden and the colors are exquisite, reds, pinks, blues yellows, and all in different hues, and the perfume of them just enough to tantalize, but not overpowering.  I am shaded by trees, and in-between the flower bed is grass.  I have gone to heaven, and almost thought so when I feel a hand upon me shaking me. I ignore it.  It isn’t rough, not firm enough to end my reverie, though at this moment I think it not a dream at all, but real and wonder who is disturbing me in this park serene ?  I am being jostled and it has a voice.  It’s getting louder.  My thought is, Go away!  Perhaps I even spoke it.  I don’t know, but in that moment of contention, the spell is broken I am rudely propelled out of the garden park and am again on the dusty desert road in the heat of the day.  I open my eyes fully, and there is the old man from the optical shop, fully present, shaking me and imploring my return.  My first thought is,  what are you doing here?  Come to save a lost customer?

The old man shakes me some more; it seems surreal; I am looking fully square at him.  His shaking of me is incessant; as if he cannot comprehend I am seeing him and feeling him shaking me as well.  I yell, “Stop!” which he does, even as I see that I am back in the optical shop.

I yell, “What of the desert and the garden park?”  Then, awake fully, I realize the truth of it–‘twas but an illusion.

I am not at all sure whether I am glad to be back in the optical shop.  Not at all.  This place seems quite as unreal as does everything else.

“May I?” was the first words I hear clearly from the old man as he deftly removes the spectacles that my hands themselves could not touch nor remove.  And off they come without me having time to respond to his request.  He places the spectacles back into the box, then turns and smiles at me.  I wonder why?  I think I have not yet fully returned, from who knows where?   I have been so much elsewhere, I hardly know where here or there is.  Yet my senses are returning  and I speak with all sincerity,  “I’m not sure I like your spectacles, nor the looking-glass.”

The old man laughs and then reminds me of the warning he had given when first I entered the shop.

HUMMMMPH! So he had.  Why didn’t I listen?

I ask him, “I was in a desert, then a garden park, and then again a desert, and now here.  What of that?

“Your  journey’s of mind are your own,” he says without nary a tone of consolation.  “Who can predict them? It is all centered in you, whether real or not, who can say?  Yet this much I know,  how you perceive a thing is more real than what is true, for if it be real to you, is it not true as well, for you?”

“But  why a desert and a park?”  I ask, not wanting to let it go.

 “It is as a dream, the interpretation must by your own, as with life.  You live it; you dream it, as you will.  Truly your life, and your dreams as well, are equal to your thoughts.  What you think is more important than what is, for you make what is your own, and act the part.  A dream or life, it is what you think it is.”

 “Well then,” I say, not satisfied at all, “the desert was hot, desolate and miserable and the garden park most pleasant.  A stark contrast, extreme even, and for what purpose?”

“Is life not contrast” How but by their differences can one appreciate them?  Is not life a journey of contrasts, and thereby we gain appreciation?  Perhaps that is all this look at life through those lenses mean.”

“Yes, well then … a return to reality it is, and if these, the last spectacles, are not the perfect spectacles, then surely this has been but a grand waste of a perfectly good day.”

“Perhaps, perhaps not? You will know when the day has run its course.”

And so I turned my wary attention back to the box and the one untried spectacle and the looking-glass, not at all sure I am up to the task.  Yet the prospect of finding the perfect spectacles is fully enthroned, though at this point, I begin to wonder the purpose of these journeys, when all I really want is to see life more clearly.

The old man has departed and so I steel myself and peek quickly at the center spectacle in the looking-glass, expecting what I know not.  Nothing happens.  I look up and gaze around the shop.  It has not changed.  Feeling slightly more at ease, and perhaps foolishly brave, I look again into the looking-glass. The center spectacle, the only one I have not yet looked through, is fading into the distance even as I look.  Unthinkingly, I put my face close to the looking-glass to see more clearly.  My nose actually touches it.  Then my nose goes into the looking-glass, or partly so.  I quickly pull myself back from the looking-glass as far as my chair allows and jump out of my chair.  I am clear of it.

Whether it is luck or a propensity of the looking-glass to do nothing with my nose poking around in it, I do not know.

Thinking no more of it, I slowly return to my seat and look into the looking-glass.  I find the old man.  He is within the looking-glass wearing my last spectacles and looking at me most queerly.


 10

I yell into the looking-glass, “What are you doing in there?”  Though I am not nearly as shocked as I am laughing inside for the old man’s predicament, yet I do wonder what is the cause of him being within.

“I am within, I suppose,” says the old man through the looking-glass, “as a consequence of your thoughts.  Certainly, not of my own volition.”

 “How can that be?” I ask.  “I only briefly, and much earlier, thought secretly that you should experience the looking-glass.  How can that affect you?”

“Is it not so with life?” asks the old man.  “What you think in secret manifests in life.  Is not a person’s life but a mirror of his thoughts?  For this cause, but this cause not alone, am I within the looking-glass, for your thoughts and you actions affect others, sometimes as much, and as quickly, as they do yourself.”

Hmmm.  Am I the cause of this, and if so, how am I to make a correction, or at least, balance the scales?  I laugh secretly again.  Has the old man not put me through five spectacles, and this one as well.  Perhaps he is deserving of this.  Yet I must do something.

“What can I do, to undo what I have done?” I ask the old man.

“Reach your hand through the looking-glass and remove the spectacles from my face and it will be the same as before”

I was about to reach within when the thought struck, “as before?” Does he mean I am to be drawn through the looking-glass as an exchange?  Am I to endure another journey within the looking-glass?  Yet… is this not my journey, and not his?  I hesitate.

The old man smiles patiently and waits.  The look upon his face is as if he is quite content with his situation.  He appears quite jolly, actually.  No need to hurry.  I will think upon it.

I turn from the looking-glass and was about to get up and walk about some what when I suddenly feel I am not quite myself.  Never since years gone by have I but entertained just and moral thoughts, and her I am at this late date debating with myself as to the fate of the old man.  Who am I?  Who is this person I am?  I thought I was different.  I am different, for my thoughts of yesteryear, appearing now, again, cause me to feel ill at ease. I will trust my feelings, for thoughts come and go but what I do with them, whether I act upon them or not, that is who I am.  I will retrieve the old man.

With that thought in mind I look fully and squarely into the looking-glass.  The old man is gone.  I am staring but at myself, yet was fully expecting to see the old man.  Where has the looking-glass taken him?

As I continue staring at the looking-glass I see something I have not seen previously.  A strange light is within the looking-glass.  It emanates from me.  The light is less than attractive.  It appears dark.  Is the cause of it my earlier thoughts to keep the old man caged?  But I have changed that thought and was about to attempt to secure his release.  Yet, my light is still dark.  Is it really my thoughts creating this light?

Just briefly I experiment (I have not forgotten the old man’s dilemma).  I think kind and loving thoughts, then quickly look into the looking-glass.  The light reflecting therein is warm and bright.  Then I think mean and hateful thoughts, and turn again quickly to the looking-glass.  The light is dark, even ugly to behold.  Truly then, my thoughts, though within, reveal themselves without.  Not only can I not hide them from myself, but they reveal me to others.  This is a sorry plight.  Is nothing secret?  Are we then not all exposed?

Suddenly I feel a presence at my right and turn from the looking glass to see, and what I see is the old man standing at my shoulder, smiling at me like a parent catching a mischievous child in the act.

“How did you get out of the looking-glass? And where are the spectacles that were upon your face?”  I then see that the old man is holding the spectacles in his hand.

You let me out of the looking-glass when your thoughts drifted to the light surrounding you,” says the old man.  “If you waver in your thinking, that which you were thinking loses power, while that which you are thinking increases.  You yourself released me when you changed your focus with your thoughts.”

“How can I, or anyone, have such power over others with but mere thoughts?”

“Thoughts, if you will, are the spirits of creation, and they are not powerless.  At the least they create the light by which creation takes form, and at most, they alter things already created.  Thoughts are powerful indeed.”

With that said, the old man holds the spectacles towards me and says, “Perhaps these last spectacles, are the perfect spectacles?”

I look up at him.  And then my hand does the unthinkable and snatches the spectacles from his hands and throws them across the room.  It quickly dawns on me what I have done and I turn back towards the old man to apologize, but he is gone.  Now what have I done?  I have offended him.  Yet again my thoughts have ruled my actions, and they have ruled my day.

And what of the spectacles?



#11  (Conclusion)

I gaze about the shop.  Truly the old man has disappeared.  I wonder if I should leave.  After my conduct I’m surprised the old man left, instead of asking me to go.   I can be so very contrary.  It Is an awful state.

I get up from my chair and search for the spectacles.  The least I can do is return them to the cursed box.  I hope they are not broken.  I look about the floor where they might have crashed, but find nothing.  Then I search where I think they might be, yet know they cannot be.  All to no avail.  I cannot leave the shop without replacing the spectacles.

The bell at the door jingles.  It is the young man, the owner of the shop.  I should hide myself.  A ridiculous thought, but one I consider fleetingly.  Hide indeed.  I sigh deeply and turn fully to look at him so I can tell him what I have done.

He smiles when he sees me.  He won’t be smiling long.  I smile back.

He walks over to the far counter where I have concluded my worthless search.  I wonder what to say.

 “I found these spectacles,” he says, in a humorous tone, and then laughs pleasantly. “Would you mind if I return them to the box?  I think they are lonely.”  He laughs again, and places them within.

 “I was going to explain that, though I’m not sure how that might have sounded.”

 “No explanation is needed.  I understand.  Introspection is not easy.  I marvel at your tenacity.  You have stayed the course, many have not.”

 I like this young fellow. No wonder he is successful.  His manner is easy and congenial, unlike my own.  His kindness is my encouragement.  Perhaps my quest is not over.

“If you would like, the last spectacles are yours yet to try.”

 “This has become much more than a visit to an optical shop to seek perfect spectacles.  It is as if though, in this search, I am creating a new me.  Is it not so?”

“The shop, the spectacles and the looking-glass each have their purpose, as do all things in life.  This journey you yourself called forth.”

 “It appears so, though I had no thought but to see more clearly.

 “Life is a journey, is it not?  It reveals the traveler.  Never is the journey void of the experiences one calls forth.  Every experience serves the traveler, thought at the time he may think it not so, yet truly it is so.”

“That may well be.  Yet it is hard to bear.  There is much pain in life, and yes, pleasure too.  The spectacles have been more pain than pleasure.  And if I again place them before my eyes, what have they yet in store for me?  Another adventure to show myself, even a disgrace in my own eyes?  Of this I have had enough.  Yes, I have experienced.  Yes, I have learned.  But in truth, I wonder if the pain is worth the price, for surely a look at oneself is ever hard to bear.”

“It will be as you decide.”

“I will think upon it, if you please.  And may I ask, what of the old man?  I did not mean to turn him away.  I was distraught.”

“He is not far.  And he, like myself, knows the course and its trials, thus there is no offense, and no judgment.  And who knows (for I know not) if he will yet appear again.”

“I will sit again and face the looking-glass and will see what the last spectacles bring to fruition.  I can do no less, seeing how far this has come.”

“Yes, you will see indeed that which you yourself bring about in the looking-glass.  Be not surprised at your doings which will be revealed, for they are yours and yours alone.”

At the precise conclusion of those words, the bell jingles at the door.  I look.  It opens, but no one enters.  I turn towards the young man. He is gone.  The bell jingles again.  I again turn towards the door.  It is closing, but there is no one to see, not at the door, nor in the shop.  I am alone.

It’s just as well.  Ever are we alone in life, though yet surrounded by all that is life.  And so this, my last journey, will prove my point.  And with that said, I sit again in front of the box at the table.  It was then that I notice the box is closed.

I quickly look for the old man (out of habit I suppose).  Yet I know he will not be there.  Shall I touch the lid?  What can happen?  What can happen indeed.

Without another thought to dissuade me I press the lid upon the spot.  I jump, just a little, as it opens.

I quickly turn away from the box.  No need to set it off before it fully opens.  I count to three and turn around and look into the looking-glass.  Well…I thought I would be looking into the looking-glass, but there is no looking-glass.  And there are no spectacles.

The box is empty, empty except for an envelope.  I look at it and cock my head a little to read the writing upon it.  I certainly will not reach into the box and actually touch it.  I squint my eyes to make it out.  I squint a little more and can barely read the single word upon the envelope.  It is my name.  I am reading my name.  It is addressed to me.  Cautiously, very slowly and carefully I reach for it and touch it quickly and pull back just as quick. Nothing happens.  I touch it again with just my fingertip.  My finger is intact.  I reach in and turn it over delicately.  The envelope is unsealed.  And then, summoning my courage, I pick it up quickly and remove it from the box.

I turn the envelope and lift the flap.  I pull out the letter and unfold it and read:

"Dear me,

I write this letter to my future-self, when I will be aged. It is a list of accomplishments I wish to pursue, and .... "

I pause my reading.  I reflect back, but recall writing no such letter to myself.

Suddenly the old man appears at my side and says, “That’s because you haven’t written it yet.”

“You’re back!  What are you saying?  How can I be reading a letter I did not yet write?”

“Look into the looking-glass and you will see.”

“But the looking-glass has disappeared, as have the spectacles.”  I turn and point at the box.  To my surprise (I should not have been surprised) the looking-glass and the spectacles are there, except for one pair.  I lift my eyes to glance briefly into the looking-glass.  I am shocked, to see therein, me, me as I had been at fifteen years of age.

This is getting quite ridiculous I was about to say to the old man, but before the words can leave my mouth I am pulled through the looking glass and find myself in my room, in my house as it had been in the days of my youth.  I am sitting at my old desk, writing a letter.

I hear a familiar voice.  It is my mother calling me to supper.  She has been dead many years.  This is marvelous.  I get up from my desk and walk down the hall towards the dining area.  I hear the voices of my family in my youth.  Will they recognize me?  I have not seen a one of them in nearly fifty years.  I enter the dining area.  They are all there.

I look at my mother and father and at my brother and sisters.  I walk to each of them and hug them thoroughly and tell them how overjoyed I am to see them again.  They look at me very strange, like I am acting quite queer and out of character.

My mother says to me, rather sternly, “Do not neglect the dishes this evening, as you did last evening.”

I laugh in wonderment at her words. 

My father asks me, “What humor is this?”

I do not know how to answer.  My sister looks at me in a peculiar fashion and says, “I see you visited the optical shop.  Your spectacles look quite becoming.  I think they are perfect for you.”

I have no inkling I am wearing spectacles.  I leave the dining room quickly, pulling off the spectacles as I run down the hall to my room.  I stand before the mirror in my room.  I am fifteen again.  I quickly put on the spectacles and look again into the mirror.  I am yet fifteen.  I take the spectacles off again and look into the mirror.  No change.  I am fifteen.

I hear my mother outside my door.  “Are you alright?” she asks.

“Yes, “I answer  “I will be but a moment.”
       
“Are your new spectacles giving you a fit?  They will do that on occasion.”

“No, they are quite perfect, really.”

I look again into the mirror on my wall.  Truly, I am fifteen, and then appears the old man in the mirror, smiling and waving.  I smile and return his wave, and then he slowly fades and disappears. I sigh, and think, and walk back towards the dining area to my family.

I am young.....not old.   It was but a dream, or was it.  How can this be?  I have memories of a whole life, but am yet fifteen (and have those memories as well). Was it my future, or my past, or both?  I cannot tell.  I do not know.  I am perplexed.

If a dream, I have learned much, and at a tender age, and am the wiser for it.  If not a dream (what but a dream could it have been)?

I shall be more careful with my thoughts, not as rash with my opinions and not as quick in judgment.  Surely my life will be less painful and more  joyful.  I will a blessing, not a curse.  After all, has not my vision of things improved, is it not more clear, giving a more perfect view, with less distortion?  Yes! I think I have found the perfect spectacles...and at such a young age.....I think. 



                                        

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