Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Waterbird without her mask would sing a happier song

Waterbird by Joaquin Alejandro Newman
You can find more of his work at Forrealism

FYI: My absence was a birthday break and by no means constitutes a failure of service on my part.

My birthday was wonderful: drunken, social and even the hangover was a pleasure (in the end). Admittedly being sent home from work (already two hours late in) because I, as Miss Sally put it, "stink of gin" was a simultaneous highlight (anecdotally) and lowdark (experientially).

"Ok, everyone!" called Miss Sally in her usual chirpy tones, "No one is to strike a match anywhere near Sarah, her breath is seriously combustible!"

Then she sent me home. Or rather to the Peace Cafe, the list of benefits to which I add the label 'Perfect Hangover Cure.'

So today, I worked like a crazy thing to make up for it with the Chief. I think he's just about forgiven me, as he sent me a great clip all about the masks we wear, this afternoon. I can't embed it on the blog for some reason, so you'll have to travel a little to watch it - here.

Thanks Chief.

I know some of my own masks already (but not all, I suspect - my capacity to deceive with illusion, especially myself, equals Houdini's), which include:
  • false confidence as compensation for insecurity
  • shrinking or retreating so that I'm not afraid
  • insincerity to avoid confrontation or the telling of an uncomfortable truth
  • hiding my love for others for fear of not being loved in return (don't even get me started on the desire for reciprocity - another mask in itself).
What would I be like without my mask?
  • Scared
  • Vulnerable
  • Challenged
  • I think, happier
The thought of taking off the mask is especially frightening to me here, in a life that is so familiar. It's not just me relying on the damn thing for a start. Other people have grown, like Henry Higgins, accustomed to my mask. They have investments in it.

Taking the mask off would mean asking everyone to reconsider a different person. It seems easier, in my mind at least, to think about leaving my life here and taking off the mask somewhere else. This is similar to my experience of going to University, where the fact that no one knew me meant that I could be confident trying new masks, shedding old ones.

I'm not sure I have been entirely without a mask on since I was a child.

As I write this I think of a conversation with TeaBarMan James' mum in the Cafe yesterday. We were talking about age.

"It never used to bother me," she said, "But in the last few years it's really started to. As if I can't believe that so much time has gone by."

I agree with her. "I used to think that when I turned 18, I would just become an adult," I tell her, "And I thought I would feel utterly different, transformed into a grown up. I find it encouraging that actually, inside, I feel younger now than I did then."

And maybe that's the trick. Maybe it's the child in me I should trust the most. Maybe it's the child in me that I should allow to shine more often.

She's the one without the mask, after all.

1 comment:

Mark Wright said...

Weirdly, Sarah, I know the guy who made the mask film ... or knew. I was at school with him and his two brothers. He's been doing the thing for a year or two now...