What does your mask look like? Is it political? Musical? Scientific? Alcoholic? Rainbows? Swastikas? Skull and crossbones?
Everybody wears masks. And not just one, we have so many. We have a mask for when we visit our parents. We want them to be proud of us; to believe in us; they need us to help them age. We wear a mask as parents for much the same reasons.
We have another mask at work. No matter what we do for a living, we wear a mask that is focused, motivated, driven. We want our boss and our coworkers to believe we have all the answers, can handle the pressure, the stress. Our mask hides our insecurities, feelings of failure, fear of being fired or not getting the recognition we deserve. If we’re lucky, we have coworkers we learn to trust, who see a mask that looks like friendship.
We have different masks for our friends, depending on who we’re with. We have the mask for our soft, earthy friends; the mask for our partiers; the one for our intellectuals who sip wine and read books and go to museums, or the friends who like to smoke pot and have deep conversations about quantum physics. We wear a mask for our friends that makes us funnier, easier to get along with, more lovable.
Our lovers see several masks. They are all just for them. There are masks for intimacy and loyalty; courage to be vulnerable in front of each other and to stay together even when it’s hard that the outside world doesn’t see or know. We wear a mask so that our partners will love us more deeply, more profoundly, to encourage them to stand by our side through everything life throws at us. We want them to take out the trash and rub our feet, and to let us satisfy their carnal pleasures. We have a mask of expectations that is so fragile when our partner doesn’t live up to them.
Some of us need to keep a mask on even when we’re alone. There is a black and hollow inside, an anger and fear and they don’t want to believe lives inside them. The mask they wear out in the world — the pretty, happy, sexy mask that everybody loves that hides the truth — they leave that one on behind closed doors because they can’t accept who they are.
We even have a mask for our spirituality. We want the members of our church or temple to believe that we’re good people, that we are generous, kind, compassionate. We wear the mask for ourselves, wanting to believe that we feel our faith deeply that we believe in our god, our guru. We try to take the mask off for our god or guru, but she knows we can’t help but wear one. She sees us underneath though, despite our ugly mask, and she loves us anyway.
When we’re on social media… another mask. Our pretty pictures of food, our pets, gorgeous sunsets, comets passing by, the vacations we went on, the bands we saw, the protest we attended, the mask we’re wearing to keep from getting sick when we’re staying socially distant. The mask of anger seems to feature prominently there. We’re sarcastic, cynical, witty at the expense of others. We wear the mask of self righteousness, self awareness, that we have a moral upper hand. And we’re ALL right.
We’re all so used to wearing masks. We wear them all the time.
So, you… the person who refuses to wear a mask because it infringes on your civil liberties as an American. Yeah, you. You, who wears masks all day long… why are you hiding from reality? Why are you so ashamed to be on the same side as other people who are afraid of getting sick, who may have voted differently than you did? Why is it so wrong to be on the same side of this fight? You have the power to take away my right to see my dying loved one. You have the power to keep businesses from reopening safely, children from going back to school. You have — and are exercising — the power to bring this country to its knees. Why? What happened to “united we stand, divided we fall??” We are falling and you have the power to change that.
What are you so afraid of? It’s just a mask. It might just save your life.