Trapped in a Moment

Over a decade ago my life consisted of college classes and work. Determined to graduate in five years after slacking off for the first three, my school schedule was packed. I also worked a lot. One of my jobs in college was at Nordstrom. In a rush from work to class, I made a mad dash past the children’s section of Nordstrom. As I rushed past one of the mirrored columns, I caught a glimpse of myself. I saw a pretty girl with long legs and long arms. I saw a girl who looked happy with a messy pony tail and all black clothes. “She’s pretty,” I thought to myself. Then I realized it was just my reflection. The messy pony tail now looked sloppy. The all black clothes looked uninspired. I looked tired and wore out.

The class I was rushing to was my favorite class: creative writing. We were working on different forms of poetry. The focus for that day: a sestina. The form and word repetition was strict. The topic was up to me. As I stared at my blank piece of paper, I couldn’t shake the feeling of catching my own reflection in the mirror. Why was I so pretty until I knew it was me?

********

Trapped in a Moment

 

For a single moment

before exhaling and after inhaling, I become

the image of who I am, an innocent person

trapped

in reflection, not knowing that it’s myself staring

back at me, purely, clearly.

 

It is me, once I look clearly.

But as I walked by, for a moment

I saw myself in my true form, a form distorted by staring

at myself. Looking too closely, I forced myself to become

trapped

viewing myself as more than a person.

 

I examine my reflection more than any person

should. All my flaws laid out clearly

in front of me. It would be easier to turn away but I am trapped

in the moment

when the image of who I am and who I want to become

appear next to each other. Staring.

 

Minutes feel like hours as the staring

contest between myself and the person

I wish to become

blend together. I no longer clearly

see myself as I did the moment

I accidentally caught my reflection and became trapped.

 

If my image could remain trapped

in memory as it was before the staring

began, remembering myself in that surprise moment,

I would like the person

who everybody sees clearly.

They see the person I’ve become.

 

In front of a mirror I become

trapped

forcing myself to clearly

see the reflection, not of who I am, but an image staring

back at me resembling a person

lost and distorted by the disruption of a moment.

********

For some reason, a reason I wish I could devote time and effort to studying, we are taught to be our own worst critics. We are taught to scrutinize every inch of our bodies. We are taught that what is on the outside matters more than anything on the inside. It’s everywhere, and it’s exhausting.

In that moment when I realized how critical I was of myself, as I processed my thoughts and my actions on paper, I made a promise to myself. I would be gentle with myself. I would be my own cheerleader. I would never beat myself up.

I think the tide is changing for our world. Companies that are visible to everyone are beginning to promote this crazy concept of self-love. The Today Show is on board. Professional runner Lauren Fleshman is keeping it real for her fans. More and more people are rejecting the idea that we have to look perfect in order to be of value.  

Life isn’t about perfection. The one thing we all have in common is our ability to love. There is never too much. We never run out.  It’s time for everyone to look at themselves in the mirror and love the person that they see instead of an image that has been distorted by staring too long.

Sunset over the Lynnhaven River
Sunset over the Lynnhaven River
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3 thoughts on “Trapped in a Moment

  1. such a good poem. i wonder if you can get back to writing as part of your career some how? maybe teaching? or some sort of outreach program could evolve that combines running and creative writing and self-empowerment… that totally screams kristy to me!

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