Wednesday, May 2, 2012

hiding places, brave faces

“All falsehood is a mask; and however well made the mask may be,
with a little attention we may always succeed in distinguishing it
from the true face..” - Alexandre Dumas

i've been thinking about this the past couple of days. masks and
why we adopt them. why we wear them, why we won't take them
off even as it pains us. i always think about that episode of the
'Twilight Zone' with the family visiting an older rich relative in
his New Orleans mansion during Mardi Gras. they each put on
this facade for him, one he was always able to see through. he
asks them all to put on grotesque masks and they reluctantly
comply. once the clock strikes midnight, he dies. they remove
their masks, with little else on their minds except the money
they'll get from him. to their horror, they find that their faces
have taken on the same horrid, twisted looks of the masks. as
they take the mask off their uncle's face, they find his face is
unchanged. even when i was younger, that episode stuck out
for me.

the underlying message speaks to how some people out there
are living with masks as truth. masks of who they wish to be.
masks of who they wish they still were until life threw them a
few curveballs. masks to hide the hurt. masks to hide their fears
of not being accepted, not being proud of who they are, masks
of being afraid to open their hearts to love for fear of rejection,
masks to cover for their selfishness and indifference. there's
even some folks with masks so cleverly crafted you can't tell
what's real and what's Hollywood.

folks, i don't claim to know it all. not by a long shot. but if
there's anything i do know is, even the most practiced at
putting up a front let it slip. even Pai Mei from those Shaw
Brothers flicks, as invincible as he was, had a weak spot. and
that's part of why it is unhealthy and unwise to rock a mask
all the time. you start BELIEVING that's who you really are.
and that mask doesn't really allow you to connect to what's
important. nowadays it's even worse in this digital age. we
have gotten so accustomed to communicating or NOT
communicating on social media that we forget ourselves.
we risk putting on masks to deal with everything from the
mundane to the most serious. you've got people who do it
so much that everyone KNOWS what they're doing and
laughs at them behind their back while they think it's all

another variation is putting on a brave front. going out of
your way to tell people everything is fine when it's not. we've
all been guilty of this at one point or another in time. i had
a recent situation with someone close to me who told me
that he didn't have medicine and that he was dealing with
chest pains. he's a bypass survivor. yet he tries to tough it
out. i damn near cried when i found out. sometimes we try
to be strong not because we need to be, but because we can't
look like suckers. even the very strong can get broken down
to the last compound by pain. look at the recent death of
Junior Seau, NFL great.

if you've stuck with me up to this point, there is a point.
live life with your soul and personality as bare as possible.
show off the wounds with your winning smile. masks are
only good for Halloween and costume parties. they're never
meant to be worn for a lifetime. let the ones you love, the
ones who hold you down see the true you all the time. that's
why they're there in the first place. and see yourself in the
way you're meant to be seen.

until the next time...

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