“Let’s burn our masks at midnight
and as flickering flames ascend,
under the witness of star-clouds,
let us vow to reclaim our true selves.
Done with hiding and weary of lying,
we’ll reconcile without and within.
Then, like naked squint-eyed newborns,
we’ll greet the glorious birth of dawn;
blinking at the blazing, wondrous colors
we somehow failed to notice before.”
― John Mark Green
This very morning, I had the rare treat of having an honest conversation with one of the few people that I know who does not seem to be wearing a mask. I said to her that fake people bore me, and then, I came home to see what today’s blog topic would be–and it is “Mask.”
Although I have written several blog posts about manifestations of the mask wearers–their tendencies toward denial, their insensitivities to the needs of others, their narcissisms, etc., I am not sure that I have ever simply written about masks; yet, I feel sure that the People of the Lie [as Scott Peck calls them] began by simply putting on a false face–and then, the falseness became the face.
“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
The problem with mask wearers is that they spend an inordinate amount of time looking around, trying to decide what and who are not offensive. Because mask wearers are always looking at others, to find the best masks, they cease to look within. Most people wear masks now, and most of what the person looking outward sees is others who are looking outward themselves. Everything becomes superficial–shells of people model themselves after other shells of people. In no time at all, the mask wearer loses sight of what is real–of what is authentic.
“Opinion’s but a fool, that makes us scan the outward habit by the inward man.”
― William Shakespeare, Pericles
Kierkegaard says that there will eventually come a time when everyone will be forced to remove their masks:
“Don’t you know that a midnight hour comes when everyone has to take off his mask? Do you think life always lets itself be trifled with? Do you think you can sneak off a little before midnight to escape this?”
― Søren Kierkegaard
That thought is very much like the concept that eventually everyone will see their mistakes toward others and will swing back around, righting their wrongs. I believed that myth at one time, but people have hurt me who I know will never care to rethink their actions. I am quite sure that I will die and there will be many fences that were never mended and many gates will remain locked. In that same way, I am quite sure that I know many who will never remove their masks. Some people have been masked for such a long time that I am not sure that they still can remove them.
“We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be.” – Patrick Rothfuss
Oh, What A Dangerous Web We Weave When First We Practice to Deceive–Ourselves!
The true tragedy is that mask wearers opt to function with blinders on. As they are scrutinizing themselves lest anything offensive remains there, they begin to remove anything that is unique and colorful, too. “They throw away the baby with the bath water.”
“She did not know yet how sometimes people keep parts of themselves hidden and secret, sometimes wicked and unkind parts, but often brave or wild or colorful parts, cunning or powerful or even marvelous, beautiful parts, just locked up away at the bottom of their hearts. They do this because they are afraid of the world and of being stared at, or relied upon to do feats of bravery or boldness. And all of those brave and wild and cunning and marvelous and beautiful parts they hid away and left in the dark to grow strange mushrooms—and yes, sometimes those wicked and unkind parts, too—end up in their shadow.”
― Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There
“She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by-
And never knew.” – Shel Silverstein
©Jacki Kellum April 27, 2015