It is strange, but something I just wrote in response to a comment got me to thinking…

About masks, and the many times in our lives we wear them, both physically and psychologically. For nearly all of us, that wearing starts at a young age…when we wanted to hide our pain when our schoolmates teased us…or when we grew older and went out on our own when we searched for employment and faced the stranger across the desk, trying hard to “put on a proper image” when all we wanted to do  was shout at them that we were deserving of that job despite the fact we weren’t wearing a popular style or our skin was the wrong color or we didn’t “talk right” or didn’t “fit” their image of acceptability…times when we hid our anger, jealousy, resentment, frustration, disappointment or whatever other emotion due to a situation, occasion, location or even the person we were with.

Masks, whether they be physical as in a play, or Halloween, or for a ceremony, or emotional, as when we seek to portray one emotion-or none at all-when we are feeling something else, are meant to hide who we truly are, to allow us to, for the time that we are wearing them, present ourselves as something we are not. But every mask is a deceiver, whether physical or emotional, they are a misrepresentation of the truth…a lie.

But the greatest mask we ever wear is the one many of us present ourselves with…how we perceive ourselves.

And those masks can have lifelong effects on us.

Many of those masks are formed and fashioned by outside forces…such as spending a lifetime being told we were plain, ugly, too fat, too thin, too lacking in intelligence or too possessing of it-as in the know it all-to stand being around, that we were inconsequential, worthless, useless, and much more…

These all-when presented consistently by enough people for enough time, can actually cause many of us to come to believe the mask those things form to be a representation of our true selves…

We actually come to believe the “face” of that “mask” so fully that we end up not only holding ourselves back through the belief that it would do us little good to be other than what seemed to be the commonly held view of who and what we were, but it can, in some cases, even drive some of us to drugs, alcohol, depression and even suicide.

And then there are the masks that we ourselves form…perhaps in how we view our physical appearance, or our talents or lack of them, in our intelligence when we may not learn as quickly or retain information as well, or for a myriad of other reasons…those thoughts and concepts influence how we view ourselves when we look in the mirror.

Whether the mask be one of arrogance or lack of self image, a smile that masks an evil or cunning or lie, a false tear, or even false pain displayed merely to gain sympathy and attention, they are all masks and all, sooner or later, slip.

And none should know that better than writers, for they pursue a craft in which they literally “slip into” the characters that they are writing about in order to bring them to life…but in the very doing of that they reveal far more of themselves than they might think.

For the very fact that they could even envision the actions, characteristics, attitudes and concepts of right and wrong, good and evil, realistically in the character or characters that they are writing about, means that they must first know those things within themselves if they are to write them compellingly enough to make a stranger who reads their words actually be able to picture…and feel…those things.

After all, it would be rather difficult to adequately describe and compare the sweetness of something to honey or sugar if the one doing the describing had never tasted either personally.

Which makes me wonder…how many writers, in going back during the editing process or the final reading, find that they had betrayed more of their true selves than they had thought or perhaps even intended. In one of my other blogs I mentioned this, and that writers have no choice in that they release a part of themselves in the words they write, and that often outside influence have direct bearing on what occurs at various places in the writer’s work.

For instance, say a writer was in an upbeat, inspired mood, but was writing a murder mystery…more than likely that would be when they would write parts in which things went for the better or the villain had a change of heart and turned themselves in, or there was a break in the case that encouraged the ones attempting to solve it…

But conversely, if the writer was having a bad day, or was angered, depressed, frustrated or even outright murderously enraged, those emotions would translate to the characters through acts of malice, violence or even murder.

And the very intensity of the negative things that happened to the characters would be a clear indication of the knife edge that the writer themselves might be walking between light and dark.

And if that writer, after reading what they had written, goes to a mirror and looks into their own eyes…

I wonder if they would perhaps see a stranger they never knew lived within themselves peering out at them, causing their mask to slip and their self deception to reveal itself?

The star light cannot be seen against a sunlit sky, only against the dark does its light become visible, and likewise the darkness of the drop off to a deep chasm cannot be seen in the dark, only in the light.  Light and dark are inter-dependent upon each other…

In nature…

And in us.

Just a little something for any who should chance to read this and who might by chance be a writer to think about, especially if they consider themselves to be reasonably good of heart and intention…for they must also possess at least a trace of darkness in order for that light to shine its brightest.

Just a little something to think about in those odd and rare moments of your busy lives…for what masks, when you look honestly into your own eyes in a mirror, do you see…

Or could there even be more than one?

When you, dear writer, look into the eyes in the mirror after reading something you wrote that seemed out of what you have always perceived your character to be…

Are your sure it will be YOUR eyes looking back?




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