Which Mask Did You Wear Today?
By Hwaa Irfan
We grow into a world that we believe we know, and in turn knows us – at some stage at least. As we grow the days seem longer, and the obstacle less tangible as we work our way through the multiple identities that confront us with who we are. If we are lucky we learn and grow from teachers with a greater and more in depth understanding of ourselves. But in general many of us are not so fortunate, as we get knocked and bruised by the individualistic persuasions of a cloned society. On the one hand they tell us we have a right, it’s your choice, you are free to do what you will, but the most difficult thing one finds that as time passes, and it becomes increasingly evident that in an environment that champions its self to be better than somewhere else, that the only part that has a right, and has a choice, is the part of one’s self that behaves accordingly. Even if one tries to dress differently, talk differently, do different things, it becomes the elastic norm, but in reality I have no choice, I have no me. As long as I wear the mask that laughs in the right places, and has the same interests, and agrees with the same things, and rejects the same things, I have no right. In such subtle ways this is what we learn as we become socialized into a defined pattern of behaviour. As long as I don’t forget to wear the right identity for the right occasion no one will know how unhappy I am being myself, and even then, no one knows the reason why I am unhappy, why I am not going to like, like you, hate like you, and want like you is because you won’t let me like myself. But I am not supposed to think this, I must stop thinking like this, what will people think of me, don’t worry about what I think of myself because actually it’s not important. As long as do all the bad things that you want me to do, and get away with it, it’s alright I’m in with the in crowd. Don’t question it just do it – I can always buy my happiness…
The days passed into years of living life in the kitchen. It was the only place where she felt free to create. The world outside the kitchen did not make sense to her – se wanted none of it, as her unhappiness grew to the point that she would sending her children packing to their grandparents once a month when they demanded of her more than she was willing to give.
The trouble is as we go through our daily lives, we pick up a mask without thinking, we change that mask frequently according to who we are with or where we want to be. When it becomes so normal we are definitely in trouble because we then become entrained to be what we are not – we lose ourselves no longer knowing who we are, and what we feel, and what we want. We measure our every action by actions of others, and then when the moment comes along, tat pause in the noise, that silent gap which is not filled, we panic…
To fill that moment of silence has become a lifelong endeavour by the experts, lauding the one who can be blamed for that gap as introverted, then making one who does not respond in a particular way as mentally/socially/emotionally challenged, and in the process we lose 50% of the population – the most creative, and inspiring part of the population. Then the experts add labels than once explored mean a mask such as character, personality, charisma (in the modern meaning), or extrovert (meaning entertaining). As long as these people completely believe that (according to Marx) that their self interests is more important than the truth of the situation, or that their judgement calls represents the truth, or that being shallow is a virtue, it will remind everybody else of what they are supposed to be.
And there she was forced not to listen to her soul (so she did not realize at the time) to dance in a manner that went far against her soul as the dance teacher called for more emphasis on the hips to music that was far from elevating, or inspiring. And when she returned home to wake the next day, she found her mind and body had made a pact against her soul which yearned to become stronger through the dance that did not take place. Shattered and gutted, it was a while before she realized that her soul had gone to hibernation not willing to rise above her ego.
We have been taught for so long to package ourselves in a certain way, to package everything is a certain way and only those who have not been taught, who have been raised in environments that more often than not are looked down upon by those who mistakenly convince themselves that they are freely living in a democratic society can turn around like the child in the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes and see quite clearly that the Emperor is naked! The irony is however, that the Emperor is buried in veils of perception that are too dark for him to see.
And so it was that one day into the first week of the Revolution that the walls of her kitchen had disappeared. A new world materialized in her neighbourhood where the traps that had been laid for 30 years had been removed so they felt. Her neighbours were now talking to each; the streets were free for the children to play as the older ones no longer felt obligated to shut the doors of their homes at the end of the day. The prison-gates that each neighbour had locked around their own lives were now open, and the community was whole again. She just could not stop talking, and the false dreams that her and her husband had held onto for so long melted into the past, as the real dream of belonging began to materialize.
What masks did you wear today?
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