“That’s not me, is it?”
Most of us are surprised, not necessarily pleasantly, when we unexpectedly catch sight of ourselves in a shop window, mirror, or, nowadays, tagged in a Facebook post.
We always look older, wider, sloppier, more stooped, or whatever concerns us when we run into ourselves without warning. In our minds, we are different: graceful, elegant, secure, confident, beautiful.
And so, in many ways, we are. Our society’s over emphasis on youth and its very narrow definition of beauty keep too many people feeling insecure about themselves.
But in other ways, we are not what we think we are, a fact that comes as a shock when we become aware of what other people see, and we don’t.
“Do I really come across as rude . . . impatient . . . unkind . . . over competitive . . . thoughtless?” we wonder when someone — a friend, family member, sometimes a complete stranger — tells us how we just made them feel.
There’s a fine line between seriously listening to the words of others about ourselves and being over concerned about general opinion and our self-image.
The artwork, An Unforeseen Encounter, gives a visual of this fine line. As a public figure, Santa is well used to seeing himself portrayed in many formats, and he is inured to that. He already knows that he doesn’t have a six-pack, and he’s also aware that he’s no longer 20 (was he, ever?).
So he recognizes some truths about himself, and he works with those issues. He doesn’t take himself so seriously that he can’t admit that he’s not perfect: there are elements that can be worked on (an extra helping of something other than a cookie at dinner, say).
At the same time, he isn’t so focused on himself that he has to use an app on his Facebook to slim down, tuck up, youth-erize, promoting an image of himself that isn’t real, genuine or meaningful.
Santa’s saving grace — and ours, if we choose — is that he spends more time thinking about others than he does of himself.
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