What a grand masquerade takes place on the great world stage! As Shakespeare pointed out we’re all mere players with entrances and exits. The masks we’ve chosen reflect the parts we play. With any luck we’ve also selected the parts—otherwise, they were probably hand-me-downs. Our mask has become the thing we always carry around with us; it’s our presentation—our storefront. Wearing a mask has become so unconscious for most of us that we even forget to take it off at night to sleep!
There’s a whole spectrum of mask behaviors. Some people stick to one specific mask, while others change according to the occasion. Some hint at what lies underneath by playing peek-a-boo from behind the mask they carry on a stick. Then there are those who wouldn’t consider lowering their mask until they have another one prepared beneath—they reveal themselves one mask at a time.
The need to wear a mask is strongly ingrained in us. Apart from having been a significant part of our early socialization process, wearing a mask provides a thick layer of protection. We can hide warts and all behind a mask of gold! Oscar Wilde claimed that, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
While others cannot see your true face, the dramatic irony is that you cannot either! The saying is absolutely true, “He who wears a mask cannot see within himself.” Look deeply at what lies beneath your mask and dare to step from behind it. Greet yourself and no longer be a stranger in a strange land.
Remember, we came into the world without a mask and we’ll depart it without one, too. Meanwhile, relegate your masks to next year’s masquerade ball!