We all wear masks

In the United States, Thanksgiving is over and most of us can store away the masks we wear for family occasions. We unlock the chest, rummage to the bottom, and tuck them beneath the yearbooks and faded photo albums. We’ll unearth them again at the Winter Solstice holiday (Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and the New Year).

Meanwhile, we’ll only have to tote around the two or three we use daily to get through our work-a-day lives. Flip-slip-snap! On goes the work-mask. Zip-clip-pip! Here we swap one out to talk to our children (or elders). Peal-squeal-kneel, we don the one we wear for our spouse.

These masks we wear, do we even consider them? Do we ever resent them? Or, embrace them — gathering them in droves as flavors of personalities we expose?

And then, at night, we sleep and our masks melt away while we dream; our true selves bubble up through the falsity of cultural-behavioral control. In our dreams we are who we are, our masks flitting over our faces like tissue — there and gone, torn away by our unconscious desires to be both ourselves and our un-selves.

How many masks do you wear? Are there those you find uncomfortable? Alluring? Disturbing?


13 thoughts on “We all wear masks

  1. I prefer to think of my masks as “roles” instead. The worker. The manager. The husband. The dog-walker. The drinker. The fan. The writer. The commenter. The game-master (with all those roles). The brother.

    I no longer take on the role of “son” and never have taken the role of “father.”

    Are those masks? Or am I simply … multidimensional. 😉

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    1. Theater. It’s all theater. We play the roles we are asked to play. The trick is to act them as best you can take none of them so seriously you can be caught blowing smoke up your own ass or believing your own press releases!

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      1. And so, who wears the fewest or most genuine of masks? (Or no mask at all?) The child no doubt. We mold our masks early it seems. Are not all masks lies? Is theater not lies for entertainment? Could we live in a world devoid of masks? Where all exposed their darkest, lightest whims and fantasies all the while plodding in our day-to-day toil. What true benefit does humanity earn by wearing these masks?
        Did Spock ever lie?

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        1. I wrote a scene once about secrets and scars. That’s where the masks come from. The events where behaviors and consequence alter honesty. Whether it’s out of fear of reprisal for a behavior or physical or emotional protection. My father said he liked kids and dogs much better than most adults except for the crew of his B17. I think there are situations where the masks against a commonality such as fear are bonding. Think to the concept of tribalism. Masks worn against the unknown. Any sort of social structure with rules is a mask generator, so Spock was never a blatant liar, he did have a sense of humor and loyalty that over rode his common sense presentation. Short answer – no on the no masks. It seems we embrace secrets part of survival against scars.

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          1. My wife’s father piloted a B-17 – and he’s still alive at ninety-four. Every summer a B-17 flies over Portland here. You can’t mistake the base-thrum of those engines. They rattle your teeth and churn your guts when you hear them. I can’t imagine hearing hundreds of those flying over.

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            1. My dad edited the then Confederate Air Force magazine and flew around with those guys. Every summer there’s an air show north of here I used to go to with him, he’d come down from Oklahoma. I figure it’s him when that damn plane does a low flyover of my house. They will rattle your teeth. And flying in one is noisy as all hell. Ribs and aluminum, no insulation. He’d scare us up rides in trainers, mustangs. Those guys were crazy. 17, 18 years old flying into flak fields. 94. Man o man. There’s some stories.

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    2. I posit that roles assume certain duties, responsibilities and behaviors. While masks, I believe, intentionally hide behavior and reactions — they attenuate our true selves — to fit cultural constraints. But, I’d agree, they seem to provide the same function.

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  2. In my youth I was concerned my romanticism was an ill fit for any viable modern use. I was honest, opinionated, had the safety off and my middle finger cocked at all times against the plasticene world. I was starving as well. Did I mention that? And then I encountered a man who said two very important words to me. “Vocational theater.” Aha!
    John Paul Jones’ bit in the Zep movie I recall as standing out from the dragster and other sexist symbolism is a perfect example. A guy in armor rides horseback through the dark forest, his blade slashing left and right, a real Disney-esque scene. This goes on and he wages war through the night at last arriving at a British country house. He pulls his helmet, the lights come and his wife and kids greet him at the door.
    Yet is there truly respite from the masks you ask? Fair question, he said, heading off to attempt fiction…let me know if you find an answer.

    Liked by 2 people

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