Friday, March 02, 2007


I have just gotten back from a weekend in Basel where we went to the Fasnacht, a traditional 3-day carnival that starts at 4.00am on Monday morning. The lights go out in the town and a couple of hundred piccolo and drum bands strike up the same song. The most amazing thing about this (other than it goes on for three whole days) is the wonderful masks and costumes they all wear. Many have spent untold hours on making what are in fact works of art.

It got me thinking about the masks we all wear everyday. We have taken years creating these masks. For all of us at the beginning of our life we didn’t even know that we were doing it. Gradually, however, it begins to dawn on us that we do all wear them. Some of us wear them for fear of being judged and so create the mask of likeability. Some of us wear them so we will fit in and so wear the mask of conformity. Some of us construct a mask of different-ness so we stand out and can’t be compared to another. Some of us wear the mask of inability so no one will ask anything of us. Some simply hide behind any mask they can for fear of being seen. Others like to shine out and so have a glittery mask that catches people’s attention, and yet more put on the mask of indifferent excellence.

Whatever mask we wear is up to us. It is not particularly bad that we wear a mask but we do need to become aware of which one we wear and why. Masks can be useful if they are a conscious choice and we may need them in our interactions with the world. But, and this is important, never let them become who we are. When that happens they limit us and our potential. We stop seeing the bigger picture and begin to believe in the story behind the mask. Only when we become aware of the mask can we freely chose to wear it or like some of the participants in the carnival, take them off after one song and play unmasked, enjoying the freedom it gives and taking in the appreciation openly and joyfully.

What mask do you wear and why? Have you ever considered exchanging it for another greater, more expanded version? Or even taking it off altogether?


Blogger said...

One of the masks declared official are sun glasses. We hide behind them so that people cannot see our eyes, sad isn't it?

9:35 AM  

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