I try to look at the world with a sense of wonder.

Every person has a spark of goodness. Every moment has an opportunity for growth. Every community has love; every nation has pride; every body a portrait of beauty.

And yet, when I look in the mirror, and see what is reflected back at me, it is not the beauty that my family told me to see, or the strength my friends see in me, or the growth that I’ve certainly endured over time.

I see the scars. The nakedness. The unmasked man with all the flaws and failures that are clear as day. The unrealized hopes and the unforgiven mistakes.

But I also realize that I have been blessed with much that cannot be taken for granted. I see the legless high school athlete and he does not mourn never being able to run. I see the armless children who still find joy in play. I see the disabled veterans, the diseased communities, the homeless families. Having an appendage to hold a glass skull, or eyes to read a book, or an education to be employed–those are the untapped dreams of others that many take for granted.

So I try to balance my dreams with my fears, and face my demons with smiles. I try to laugh even in pain, and run when the world weighs me down. There is beauty in pain. There is joy in sorrow. There is hope when all seems lost.

And though I may see ugliness in the mirror, I know that I am not an alien in this beautifully imperfect world.

I am a native of it.

And the mirror only reflects what I place in front of it.

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