We Wear the Mask

  - February 10th, 2008 by Shalini Nambiar | Posted in General   8 Comments »
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We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,–
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us while
We wear the mask.
We smile, but, Oh great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream other-wise,
We wear the mask! 
Paul Laurence Dunbar – 1896
How different we interpret the masks we wear in public. You can be in a mall, or a community event, or at the office or at a party. And everywhere you go, people are wearing one of the many faces at their disposal. Sometimes, they are wearing their happy face, or their concerned face, or their worried face, or their nondescript face. Sometimes, our masks are jubilant, and pained, some are amused, bemused, and confused. Mostly, our masks are put on haphazardly, and with not a great deal of thought beforehand.
Masks both conceal and reveal !!!!!
We all wear masks . . . masks fashioned of the fibers of our experiences and our perceptions of those events. Many of the masks we wear are appropriate for the task at hand, while others are false faces, donned unconsciously, presenting a false identity to the world.
I first became conscious of my masks when a wise man, asked me to share something about myself I really liked. I promptly replied, “My smile.” and smiled broadly. I have always been complimented on my smile. Now this wise man knew that often those things we best like about ourselves are protective masks or patterns which conceal our true identity. As we continued, I became increasingly uncomfortable, then sad, and finally began to cry. Thus I discovered my Mask of the Smiling Face, a mask I had fashioned as a very young child to conceal my real feelings. As the adult, I was still wearing this mask to conceal anger, grief, and disappointment, and often found myself smiling inappropriately.
Often when I awake in the morning . . . I am alone . . . maskless. As I slowly return from my dreamtime travels, I reflect upon the painting I will create on the blank canvas of this day. What masks will I wear? I first select the Mask of the Mystic as I seek my prayer altar. Meditation complete, the energy shifts, the pace quickens, and I don the Mask of Discipline as I leave to exercise. Returning, as I review my appointment book I wear my Responsibility Mask. As my day unfolds, I choose mask after mask . . . Healer,Wise Woman, Friend, Mother,lover, Business Manager. Evening comes . . . I am alone . . . I put away all my masks and look at the woman in the mirror. I am maskless.
Have we ever asked ourselves what is real in our life and what is a facade? Are we acting out what others expect of us? Are we taking on a persona that is only for others, until we are so used to living it that we almost forget it is only a construction for others?
Often my heart feels like screaming that please don’t be fooled by the face I wear, for I wear a mask,. Masks that I am afraid to take off. I give  the impression that I am secure, 
That all is sunny and unruffled with me, And that I need no one, 
Don’t believe me, Please!
We all wear masks. We have faces, but we wear masks. Sometimes our faces become our masks. We wear masks that become our true faces. There are masks for each of the emotions. Masks for joy and sadness, love and hate, satisfaction and frustration, courage and fear, hope and despair.The masks conceal our true identity. The masks have their own meaning. When we wear the masks, we separate outer appearance from inner reality.
Having just read this, take a moment and look inside. Are you willing to drop your masks, even just a little, and invite people to really know you? Are you willing to find out how people would actually respond to you?
Life is to be lived. This New Year, lets shed off our masks and really live it up — for the rest of our lives!

February 10 2008 02:06 pm | General

8 Responses to “We Wear the Mask”

  1. pooja arora, trivandrum Says:

    while serfing on the net , i happen to come across this article and my congratulations to the author …as its really true ..we wear different masks for different occassions. But how should i get away from it , if i take out my mask ….ill probably die…in this selfish world….its difficult to walk maskless……

  2. Parul, Seattle WA Says:

    “All the world’s a stage and we are but actors upon it”- William Shakespeare

    What is your take on why we do this, why do we need the masks… when did it become NOT ok to let people know how you truly feel.
    Are we taught to be this way or just soemthing we pick up as we “grow”?

    Where do you draw the line between being politically correct and being true to yourself?

  3. Vineet Rodrigues, California Says:

    We wear masks …..I perfectly agree to a certain extent with the author ….but arnt we changing than what our predecessors….arnt we getting used to being alone, maskless and proud about who we are …..isnt the present schooling teaching us to be ourselves…even if its not happening lets try and do it ….its much easy to walk without the mask lest we forget who we are???????

  4. Anma Says:

    We wear masks all the time without knowing. If you ask me what’s my real self probably even i won’t know. Who am I actually,what do I actually want- its a question which I never asked myself. I am a mother,a wife, a daughter, a daughter in law but what else is that all.When I got married I said yes to a person I had never met and he was living overseas. Without meeting him we got engaged so many people asked me how can I agree to get married like this and that too in today’s world. All I could say is even if I meet him hundreds of times can I be confident of what type of person he is ….no. WE meet people and they just act according to what the situation demands. Don’t we try to be our best in front of everyone? Yes we are taught that way from the beginning- to smile in every situation. I was bitten by a dog when I was small and it was my aunt’s wedding. I was dragging my foot and face showed pain and from a distance my grandmother told me ,”Smile” and that smile came on my face even though i wanted to scream and cry with pain.She said we don’t need to show the world that we are in pain so what is this -wearing a mask of smile all the time even if you actually don’t want to smile……….So that’s life. Its easy to say that we should take out that mask and live a life without it but we are so used to it that we can’t help.

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