Did you know that Halloween masks owe their origin to early Irish pagan culture, when we believed that ghosts came back to earth on the night of the dead. Out of fear that we would bump into them, we started wearing masks to scare the spirits away and to avoid recognition.
The flamboyant Venetian masks that are now widely worn during the annual Carnival of Venice were originally devices used to hide social status. The mask wearer was free to move within different social circles away from the usual social tiers of class division.
Centuries later, physical masks are now worn for pleasure. However, every morning, we rise and put on a mask. We wear a range of them throughout the day. Our behaviour and our masks change as we face different people.
Masks offer us comfort and place a wall around us when interacting with others. How many of us hear tragic stories and follow it with “He always seemed so happy”?
Some masks hide behaviours of which we are not proud. If you have that unease in your body, it is very likely that you want to change something about yourself. You want to be truthful to you and take off that mask.
Releasing some of our masks takes daily practice and there is no need to be overwhelmed by the process. Start by asking yourself the following:
What am I showing to the world? Right now, in this situation, what do others see in me? Is that the real me?
Bringing awareness to the masks that you have in your possession lessens the load. If you feel that you can’t tell anyone that you’re sad, that you are afraid, or that you are stressed, believe that you can. You may think that the world wants certain things from you, but the reality is that unless you can find a safe place for yourself where you can take off your masks and be real, you won’t perform to the best of your ability.
Look at the masks that you are wearing today and every day and see what conversations you can truly have with those around you. When you deal with the real stuff hidden away within you, you open your heart and you discover passion. You also realise that you are working more from a moment-to-moment purpose-driven life. Figure out how you deal with this real stuff, these emotions that are buried away, and the emotions that surface. Ask yourself why they are there.
Getting rid of the masks is a call to action on your part. It takes courage and it takes patience but by making it a daily practice you’ll find yourself happier and calmer.
We Wear the Mask
By Paul Laurence Dunbar
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!