Magic mirror won’t you tell me please
Do I find myself in anyone I see?
Magic mirror if we only could
Try to see ourselves as others would
—Leon Russell, Magic Mirror (1972), Carney LP
“…Today, take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write.” —Writing 101, Day 1: Unlock the Mind
I woke up this morning thinking about the Sense of Belonging, the conflict between feeling “a part of” and feeling “apart from”. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it started early for me—the feeling of being “apart from”.
“To be alone is to be different, to be different is to be alone.”
We moved from Ohio to Florida just after my 6th birthday and there was a definite sense of being “apart from” from the Family Unit that was left behind. That sense increased when I was confronted with this new Southern culture. They sounded different, thought differently and prepared very different meals than I was used to eating. I did not feel “a part of” my surroundings by any means.
My childhood consisted of a lot of listening; listening to adults talking about the events of their day/their jobs/their families/their neighbors. As a child, I could not relate to most of the discussions and back then, kids were seen and not heard, so my recourse was to immerse myself in books and magazines.
Life Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post and Look Magazine were the major influences for this young lad. Whether at the barber shop, the doctor’s office or on someone’s coffee table, one of these magazines was always available to read and knowledge could be gained.
That was probably when I began to veer away from those around me. The more that I read, the more I began to formulate different ideas and different ideas were not well received in the 1950s. The sense of being “a part from” family, neighbors and classmates grew larger as I found it increasingly harder to fit in and relate to them.
Today, I strive to look for the similarities, not the differences, in others—just like Brother Leon suggests—and “in my quiet reflection” I try not to wonder why.
Take it away, Brother Leon: