Behind the Mask

We’re all layers and layers of mask, on top of cage, on top of mask, and so on. We feel safer when we hide, even if this means lying, cheating, betraying. The deeper our search for security, the less chances to recognize ourselves in our own mirrors. Don’t grin, you’re lost as well as me. As sick, as depraved, as desolated, as grieved in the end. If you could look behind the mask. My mask. Your mask.

I can’t take it off anymore. Laugh or cry, it’s still there. I leave it on in the most intimate moments, I can’t completely disclose even when I pray. But if the mask is so melded on my soul is there still a border between the two? Haven’t they become one? Only God could tell, but my deepest feeling says I can still tell the difference. As long as I feel a terrible pain each time I talk to you through the mask, I let you touch me through the mask, I get to know you through the mask, I make myself comfortable within the mask – as long as I’m torn to pieces when wearing the mask it means we’re still separated in our union. I’m a living wound, keeping its scars from healing with a sour cover.

But it’s not just me… I sense your mask, too. I can’t tell what lies beneath, but I know it’s not the real you out here – talking back to me, rejoining my touch, fulfilling my curiosity, providing me false security. I’m not sure there is a real you somewhere under all those layers and shades of hiding. Unlike me, I can’t tell how badly you hurt – if at all! – when doing those things. I have no clue if you and your mask haven’t become one, or if your soul aches just as mine. I wish I knew… and then I don’t. My own burden seems enough, why carry yours, too? Why be a hypocrite and ask what your story is when I don’t fully acknowledge mine?

But then again, it’s not just you and me… Show me one soul around us, except for the dying, the saints and the badly deranged, who isn’t wrapped in some sort of disguise. We all forgot how to be real, and true, and genuine. Even the child within is false and perverted.

From time to time, rare and invisible as a grain of salt in the sand, someone comes along exposed, unveiled, uncovered. We see them without their masks, either thrown away or never put on in the first place. And here’s our biggest loss: we don’t manage to get that. We think they are actors just like us, we don’t believe their truthful self and we try to imagine something that’s never there. We think the better or the worse of them, whilst ignoring what they lay in front of us. And then, usually way too late, we wonder: how on earth was I so blind? It’s like refusing to see the sun from its brightness, and then ask where the burns come from.

So easy should it be to yell triumphantly: all masks off! Let the maggots crawl through the raw tissue, consume the necrosis and let the scars properly heal. But I’m scared, and weak, and coward. I’ll just indulge in numb paralysis, sweet unknown and corrosive fear. Won’t trust, won’t attach, won’t throb, won’t thrill. Just add another mask, softer and yet full of pins, behind the mask. I so wish I could steal – or only borrow for a while – your masks. They seem to work, and you’d be better off them.

(27 iun 2018)

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