Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

We Wear the Mask

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, O 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 otherwise,
We wear the mask!

The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.
~Jim Morrison

Masks obscure honestly. Masks keep others at bay or else, masks attract others to a false pretense of who I am. Masks are not sad personas, often they are much the opposite. I'm quite the guilty one of a smiling and laughing mask when if it were pealed off, there would be a reflection of loneliness and discontent. But not always, sometimes my smile is genuine ,my laughter from a deep a happy state. So how are you to know in my inconsistency? How are you to know which day I am revealing my truthful self? .....How am I to know your truth?
Few of us, I've come to realize, rarely are as authentic as we were created to be. Why is this? Why  do I (or you) mask our truth? I began by thinking of others and why people mask themselves. Quickly it was reflected back to myself .  In my there humbled state, I came to an awareness that I, too, am fearful of exposing, at times, my genuine self. It was quite the surprise, to yet again, have this revealed, having spent a great many years pealing back the masks to discover who I am today. 

This tells me to be gentle with myself, whereas my first inclination was to be angry with me. For you see, I've come a long way and undoubtedly thought I was there. There? Where is there? I suppose I thought it was a plateau, one where I stood tried, true, and truthful to my genuine self. I laugh out loud now. Never will I be complacent in my growth. To not be growing and gaining awareness of who I whole- heartedly was created to be...well, suffice it to say, that day will find me at the end of my journey.

So for today, as I look into my morning mirror, I remind myself that I am loved just as I am and thankfully so. I am loved completely without mask; I am loved when I forget that and done my mask anyway. But somehow, this morning, I am finding it intriguing  to realize that the times I wear those masks, I do so to please others. My epiphany is this: there is but One I must please. He already knows me and to wear any other mask but my natural affront is a self imposed prison, the mask, a wall that keeps others out.

Today I will practice entertaining guests. Some may enjoy themselves, others may not. But I will be content in knowing I am  Free to Be Me.


Heres a gem said...

Hi Paige :)

Love the new look here. Last time you wrote about masks I didn't comment because I didn't know what to say. I have a hard time identifying with masks. Am I in denial? I often say I am too honest for my own good - but is that really true? I've had to think about it. Need to make sure I'm being honest with MYSELF.

I found a bit of truth in this post that I could grab on to - that sometimes what we could look back on and consider a mask was simply an earlier version of ourselves. We are always evolving. Maybe sometimes if we feel like we are wearing a mask we are really in a cocoon... evolving in to the next version of us. I like that thought. :)

Chickee said...

"Smile though your heart is aching..." *sigh*

I put on a mask of a smile and a happy go lucky attitude. I do it because it is expected of me. "she's always smiling." "She makes life more fun." "It's never boring with Chris around." Scratch that I don;t do it because it is expected. I do it because it's easier than trying to justify or explain the lack of a smile and happy face.

It's not always a mask, but I have becaome such an expert at it that sometimes I don't even realize it's on until I stop to take a breath.

<3 Chickee

Amy said...

First, beautiful photo to accompany this post. I love that the girl is getting a "mask" but not smiling. This: "I am finding it intriguing to realize that the times I wear those masks, I do so to please others. My epiphany is this: there is but One I must please," is huge. Especially in the south and perhaps everywhere. If you are asked how you are, the "correct" social exchange is "fine," regardless of the woes that may lurk beneath.

Jayne said...

Indeed, the mask is "a wall that keeps others out." A defense mechanism that we all employ every now and then, if not too often.
Great post. To thine own self be true - that's a powerful thing!