The Masks We Wear

I went to a really interesting discussion on the Droppin’ The Mask. The masks we wear. We wear them out of social necessity or out of internal drivers. We wear them as tools to carry out our day-to-day lives. What happens when we drop those masks?

This topic sparked some questions in me. What are my masks? I think they are: Caregiver. Bread winner. Authoritarian. Victim. Jackass. Holy man. Fool. Wise man. (Yep: I would be a fool to think I am really a wise man). For other people, they are different. Why the masks exist is also a matter of personal circumstances. For me: being “big” — larger than life and extroverted is a mask– it’s a tool to get what I want. I would rather be quiet and retiring, but I what I do needs to be promoted and a self-promoter is the best person to carry that out. Hence: I wear the mask of a promoter and loud mouth to put forth my message.

Masks augment people. But masks can be inauthentic. Sometimes, I can see right though a person’s mask. Sometimes a mask is a crutch, but I fear that a mask for me masks an emptiness.

For some: masks exist in layers. Take off the mask of the brave caregiver and beneath is the victim. What is underneath that shell? Crabs shed their shells, and become vulnerable. They run for cover and wait out until the new exterior forms. To be without our masks, we’re naked– naked in a way that nudity or candor cannot equal.

About 10 years ago, I was asked, “What do you do for fun?” I rambled off a list of things I did that were basically chores done in an entertaining fashion. I didn’t have anything I did for joy. A decade later, I’m still that way. I find that the unmasked me feels hollow. Maybe that’s bad, but maybe it’s common. How many people traipse through malls to buy crap? How many people fill their faces with crap food? We can sense the void and we try to fill it. But we don’t know what that void is, or how to best fill it. We can’t map the darkness, so we scribble “Here there be dragons” on a subconscious warning sign, plunk the sign next to the void and look for the cinnamon buns.

I try to fill mine by running towards something: running towards various goals that mean financial security. That leads to overwork but I accept my workaholism. Sometimes it gets to drive me to be differently productive, but it always drives me to do something, often in service to others. When I talk to people about stuff, I often talk about what is coming up: “How’s tomorrow running?” “What are we doing later?” I don’t have a vocabulary to replace busyness.

The process of The Rebuild needs time. Time to exercise. Time to focus on building my finances. Time to prep healthy food in lieu of fast to attain crap food. When I get into exercising, it’s a singular experience: I am not doing a team sport. It’s me at the gym; or me on a long walk. I get into the dynamic of man vs. self: and that is feeling like a really harsh conflict to take part in. If time with myself results in turmoil, it’s not desirable. It’s better to go through life masked and inauthentic than it is to stare down into that well.

Still: that’s what I have to do.

I have glimpsed that a part of me in the void is more quiet than one would guess. I am intuitive and the unmasked me would share my intuition freely. More than that, the unmasked me wants to witness the world. I have been forced out of many experiences. My weight and physical condition takes me out of many more experiences. I don’t want to be a bystander or a reader. I want to participate to witness– hedonism without voracity. Losing the weight is a key part to collecting the reward of living an unmasked life. It means I can take advantage of living that life. So the goal of becoming unmasked is to be able to live the life of a quiet witness. Along the path to living in that unmasked state, I need be able to experience the arena of man vs. self. I have to remove the conflict that makes being unmasked into a very painful experience.

What’s your take?

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Posted in Outlook.