I came across a story I want to share with you when I read Paolo Coelho’s The Alchemist. He continues the myth about Narcissus with an alternative story.
The alchemist knew the legend of Narcissus, a youth who knelt daily beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty. He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning, he fell into the lake and drowned. At the spot where he fell, a flower was born, which was called the narcissus.
But this was not how the author of the book ended the story.
He said that when Narcissus died, the goddesses of the forest appeared and found the lake, which had been fresh water, transformed into a lake of salty tears.
‘Why do you weep?’ the goddesses asked.
‘I weep for Narcissus,’ the lake replied.
‘Ah, it is no surprise that you weep for Narcissus,’ they said, ‘for though we always pursued him in the forest, you alone could contemplate his beauty close at hand.’
‘But… was Narcissus beautiful?’ the lake asked.
‘Who better than you to know that?’ the goddesses asked in wonder. ‘After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate himself!’
The lake was silent for some time. Finally, it said:
‘I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.’
We can all interpret the myth of Narcissus and this alternative ending of the myth in our own ways. However, what I read in this story is that the unity of two parts reflect and bring to attention the beauty of each other. A beauty that alone wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to shine.
This is for me part of an intimate relationship. When together, you can see and feel your own beauty reflected back from your partner. Together we can see our own pure beauty, alone we’d be blind to it. When we can appreciate that it is thanks to the unity that we can see our own beauty reflected, then our love can grow deeper than only to the surface of the reflection.
I’m wondering knowing this, how can we best realise that we are more beautiful as part of a well chosen unity, rather than blindly only loving the appearance?