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Masks: Why they Matter…

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“Our masks, always in peril of smearing or cracking, in need of continuous check in the mirror or silverware, keep us in thrall to ourselves, concerned with our surfaces.” Carolyn Kizer

Masks: Why they Matter… to reveal or conceal

Protecting our Reputation
Masks play a significant, positive role in many cultures because they are used to present different aspects of life in a given society. At different points in our lives, we all wear masks. They could be real ones or imaginary masks. We wear real ones for a variety of reasons; entertainment, protection, work, and rituals, but, above all, we wear imaginary ones to maintain a degree of privacy; to protect our thoughts and emotions; even our reputation. If we think about it, every character trait or flaw requires we remove one mask and replace it with another. Masks have both positive and negative connotations and serve a meaningful purpose. They allow us to be full participants on the stage we call life, and we can choose who/what we wish to play. If we inject the play factor, then we can appreciate the different personalities that cross our path.

Humans are far too complex to behave exactly the same all the time or be so readily predictable. So, our friends who say they are exactly who/what we see, have their masks for different occasions too… This is perfectly normal as we wear our masks to reveal or conceal our stories; we decide what is beneficial or good enough to share. Now, to avoid any confusion, this is not about playing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde but about showing emotional maturity; about how adults navigate the world we inhabit. Children might act out, have fits and tantrums, and get away with it but adults must be mindful of outbursts. Plus, as technological advances make our global community smaller, it’s easier to get access to information, and imperative that we pay attention to our behavior; the greater peril is to be forever judged by our missteps.

“Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” James Arthur Baldwin

Masks: Why they Matter… in love and play

We Are Good Enough…
In love relationships, especially in the early stages of a courtship, we put our best foot forward and play out our fantasies about the other person. We are on an imaginary stage, trying to prove to each other that we are good enough, and both parties are vying for the best behaved Oscar. Of course, we are good enough but it takes time to take the mask off and just be. As the relationship grows and warms, we drop some of our masks, our defenses, and reveal more. For some, the novelty of maintaining pretensions disappears rather quickly as with the honeymoon stage, while others continue the dance a little longer. Either way, as love propels us forward, the masks come off, slowly but surely.

In masks outrageous and austere, the years go by in single file; But none has merited my fear, And none has quite escaped my smile.” Elinor Wylie

Masks: Why they Matter… from propriety to prescience

From Propriety to Prescience

There are those, in positions of authority, who might wear terrifying masks as a way to intimidate, control, or demand respect from others. But, respect must be earned and that approach is rarely productive. Sometimes, our best, original works and innovations come from brilliant curmudgeons; cantankerous geniuses digging deep into the recesses of their being, triggering our fears and terrors, even our rejections, in order to leave an imprint on man. Yet, even they know their limits and when to curtail their crap.

If you think about it, our masks serve a useful role by protecting us from maligning ourselves and others in public. Do you really want to be around someone who vomits every single offensive thought that crossed their mind? Choosing the right mask, like self-control, is not only about propriety but about prescient judgment of the consequences of our actions. Most of us, as children, learned to wear our masks early because we were taught to find non-violent ways to communicate our frustrations and perhaps the line; “If you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything…”

Scenic Hudson Park: for my Automattic’s Worldwide WP 5k

Automattic’s Worldwide WP 5k
OOPS!!! Tonight is the last day to confirm we completed Automattic’s Worldwide WP 5k. I completed the task yesterday and even took pictures. I was planning to write a post on it for Monday and only realized today was the deadline when one of my buddies posted hers. So, I am officially confirming my completion of the 5k. I did my part yesterday with my friend Esme, a walk/jog, at the Scenic Hudson Park/Peter Peyser Park on the Hudson in NY and will upload the post and pictures on Monday. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL! 8)

“The closing years of life are like a masquerade party, when the masks are dropped” Arthur Schopenhauer

Masks: Why they Matter… our prerogative to behave

Masks: Why they Matter… to play the fool.

It’s Your Prerogative…
As we get older, we spend less time worrying about decorum but that doesn’t mean we lose total sense of respectful behavior. We wear fewer masks but we, hopefully, know how to walk away from a fight or an offensive act. If we choose to play the fool, it is intentional. A person without a delete-this meter can be dangerous because they cannot be trusted with sensitive information and all bets are off on appropriate behavior in public places…. In fact, the whole idea around “appropriate behavior” demands we wear the expected mask to functions and have inoffensive, albeit sometimes inane, conversations. Have you ever worn a real mask? Think back to the last time you were in costume. Did you act differently?

Humans are complex creatures and our masks; our public faces, represent but one facet of who we are and who we, at any specific moment in time, choose to be. After all, it is our prerogative and it matters. What are your thoughts? When are you most likely to wear your public mask? Less likely? Do share. Thank You! 🙂

Positive Motivation Tip: Right action, like self-control, is not only about propriety but about prescient judgment of the consequences.

More Wellness Boosters/Affirmations & Resources

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: Photo of Fang Mask, Beijing Opera Mask, Unique Leather Mask, Dan1 Mask, Fools Meeting, Scenic Hudson Park via Wikipedia & Romanceor

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

15 Comments leave one →
  1. 10/04/2011 10:07 pm

    What a great post! Perfectly said and great pics!

  2. 10/04/2011 11:42 pm

    I have often thought about the social filters of people…I have never thought of them as masks. Interesting concept!

  3. 11/04/2011 12:32 am

    Great post! I am honored to pass The Stylish Blogger Award on to you! 🙂

  4. 11/04/2011 1:50 am

    I’m making it my goal to wear as few masks as possible. I must admit, though, that the thought of being altogether vulnerable is not a pleasant one. I can be vulnerable around the people I’m close to, the people I love, but at the same time, I agree that a mask is still essential when around strangers. I think masks are not harmful as long as they’re not used to deceive.

    The last time I wore a real mask was to a Mardi Gras event. I must admit that it gave me a sense of freedom that I normally would not allow myself to feel.

  5. 11/04/2011 1:52 am

    We want to wear masks, looking like things.
    And things want to have a human face like us …

  6. 10/04/2011 11:48 pm

    I’ve stopped wearing masks altogether. Unless I’m getting dressed up for Halloween.
    And I tend to avoid people who say one thing while meaning another:

    To be nobody but yourself ~ in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else ~ means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. ~ e.e.cummings

  7. 11/04/2011 3:13 am

    …the only mask I wear is that of a pink face, snout and blue eyes to protect my physical identity.
    Behind the mask – what you see is what you get…I can’t stand people who are two faced 🙂 LOL this statement seems at odds with my first sentence – but I think you get my drift!

  8. 11/04/2011 9:50 am

    Truthfully, when I saw the title masks I was a bit turned off – I think it’s because I simply did not think of what this subject could be and simply thought – acting. Why? I don’t know. Reading this – I feel utterly ridiculous! I had absolutely no idea how powerful and thought provoking this would be!! Elizabeth – how could I doubt you? Shame on me! You are truly amazing.

    I think you may know how really thought provoking this actually is to me because (a) I’m a lawyer and must don the appropriate mask for that job and (b) my son is autistic and cannot read non-verbal cues well meaning he may have absolutely no ability to comprehend the idea behind masks as they involve too many social subtleties.

    In the working world, we must mask a bucket of emotional truths about ourselves and those with whom we socially interact on a daily basis. I must do so in order to persuade in legal argument. Anyone who says they have no masks is kidding only their selves or suffer from a disability to the degree that masks are impossible.

    As for my son, at the age of four we have never talked about masks- even at Halloween. I think it’s time to approach that subject and see what he can grasp.

    You have provided me with fodder for my own post. I hope you don’t mind. I don’t think many of us in the community I generally receive blog traffic think of this topic! I will be linking back to you!!

    Much adoration for your brilliance!!! 🙂

  9. 11/04/2011 1:55 pm

    Great pics! And a very thought provoking post, as usual! I’m quite shy when I first meet people, so I know that I wear a quieter, less outgoing ‘mask’ before I know and trust someone to know me. But I can’t think of the last time I wore a real mask…

  10. 11/04/2011 8:40 pm

    Great post-a real thought provoking story-love the concept of the different masks- many people wear different masks for many different reaons, myself I like the natural mask-as it is me. People of all walks and faiths-have many masks they wear in different form.

  11. 11/04/2011 11:26 pm

    Another insightful post. You bring a lot to this subject that I had not thought of. I usually think of masks in a negative way, but what you bring out here is the value of masks in our lives. I agree with you. No, I don’t want to be “around someone who vomits every single offensive thought that crossed their mind?” Yes, I will use my masks to protect myself….helps to establish one’s personal boundaries and persona. Very thought provoking post. Thank you.

  12. 12/04/2011 2:42 am

    I love doing mask work with kids.

    I do mostly art activities, but I have seen people do drama activities using masks. Very powerful.

  13. 12/04/2011 4:58 am

    As you can imagine, I found this bit paticularly true for me, having been subjected to this over the last 12 months: “There are those, in positions of authority, who might wear terrifying masks as a way to intimidate, control, or demand respect from others. ” They didn’t get my respect, rather I just hope to highlight their lack of competence!

    Even though I like to consider that I am a “what you see is what you get” type person, I do recognise that has to be balanced with these words of yours: “If you think about it, our masks serve a useful role by protecting us from maligning ourselves and others in public. Do you really want to be around someone who vomits every single offensive thought that crossed their mind? Choosing the right mask, like self-control, is not only about propriety but about prescient judgment of the consequences of our actions.” I wish a few more people could adopt that mask, or filtering system, sometimes. In fact, it makes me wonder if there is a connection to school bullies and those young people not having an appropriate role model to show them how to modify their behaviour.


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