Sunday, May 20, 2007


Rambling thoughts on Masks in our lives

"Which mask shall I wear today?" I mused. Of course, I will use my teacher face: caring, helpful, tolerant but firm; and, as needed, my mother mask---today will it need to be comforting or cautioning, soothing or scolding, proud or disappointed? Then, surely, today I will need my loving wife face and my friend face. Are these masks?

Which of our life roles could be considered masks? I daresay that at times our most constant and comfortable roles---no matter how much we pride ourselves on being honest, sincere, straightforward and up-front---involve wearing masks. How many of us have not pacified and been solicitious of aging parents, in-laws, even children and spouses, when we really wanted to bite their heads off or at least show them how frustrated and exhausted we are, sometimes deliberately in response to something that very person had said or done or caused? Many also are the masks that conceal from specific people or from the whole world the pain or the failures we do not wish to talk about or share at all. Pain of loss or fear or hurt or whatever is private---all of us have occasional masks for these.

Are masks actually quite a bit like "little white lies"? Not something we are very proud of, and certainly not something we want to be known for---because doesn't that make us dishonest? fake? insincere? But at the same time, a necessary survival skill. One just cannot go around constantly being blunt and hurting people's feelings. Like the adage "You can catch more flies with honey (than with vinegar)", frequently positive change can be accomplished more successfully and sometimes more rapidly with positive, friendly encouragement than with direct, sometimes hurtful, honesty. The visage that you wear to facilitate these changes or compromises or simply avoidance of conflict, surely it is a mask. N'est pas??

Aren't some of these masks totally positive?? For years I have heard the positive thinking concept of "Fake it 'til you make it." I believe in it. I have seen it work. "Act successful and you'll be successful!" Believe in yourself to become who/what you want to become, and you shall become as you have believed.

What about theater?? I have always loved dramatics and theater. I am now almost at the end of two months of emersion in a community theater show---my first in many years, but far from my first. This topic has sent my mind musing about this aspect too. Sometimes it is said that actors love acting because they can escape whatever upsets them about their own lives, they must become someone else. It is a safe, legal, even praiseworthy way to lose ones self and ones problems, to wear not only the mask but the whole persona of another. And the better job they do of removing all trace of themselves and becoming this other individual, the more praise/credit they get for it.

Masks-----a very deep and provocative topic.

*Please excuse my occasional sentence fragments. As a former English teacher for years and years, I feel I simply cannot publish this without acknowledging that I know they are there and have used them deliberately.


Blogger Remiman said...

"Fake it 'til you make it."
That's the second time I've read that this morning. I like it a lot, and like you believe it to be true.
To wear the mask of the Golden Rule" is always appropriate. To me, this is not even a white lie. ;-)
Masks are an essential fact of who we are and we are many.

2:05 AM  
Blogger paris parfait said...

An excellent, thought-provoking piece! When I first started out as a reporter at the United Nations and hadn't a clue about the Middle East, I remembered Sally Quinn's remark about "Act as though you know what you're doing until you actually know what you're doing." And it worked - the more I knew, the more I wanted to know, the more I learned. But in the beginning, I acted confident when inside I was quaking with fear. The "mask" allowed me to observe, ask questions and learn. We all need masks in various situations, as you've expressed so well in your piece.

2:58 AM  
Blogger Crafty Green Poet said...

your question about which roles in life can be considered masks is a very thought provoking one...

5:07 AM  
Blogger nonizamboni said...

Very interesting. I liked your listing of the day-to-day masks we have to wear as well as the needful 'little white lies' masks.
Nice work.

Also, wanted to tell you that 'Dream Team is one of my favorite films too! I just wrote about it in a 'baseball' post at:

11:31 AM  
Blogger Skyelarke said...

Interesting ideas you present. Act as tho you are successful and you will be ~ Confidence. So important and true isnt't it. Blessings on you!

1:47 PM  
Blogger Becoming Amethyst said...

We all know it is okay to break the rules so long as we know what they are in the first place!

And it sounds like you're having a blast with your community theatre show - good on you for getting involved again:)

3:37 AM  

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