The mirror and the mask

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, or so they say. But what if the beholder isn’t seeing all of you? What then? As much as I am for the truth, I love the masks I own. The common misconception is that a person possesses only one mask, but that’s not usually the case. We use these masks like templates for actions and reactions when we’re out in society, or we’re interacting with members of society. I know my masks and I know I wear them well. But when I have to look in the mirror and face myself, I can’t maintain the eye contact.

I don’t know when the masks became extensions of my personality. They became important character sketches that I honed over time. I am not talking about elaborate transformations, but just certain reactions or statements. Most of the time people don’t see through it. I must admit even I can’t see through the masks others wear as well. When Shakespeare called the world a stage, he was not lying. But more than being a stage it’s a masquerade ball with certain set rules.

Instead of embracing the person when they remove a mask or masks, they are treated to one of two reactions, one of wonder with regard to the beauty and the richness of their reality, and the other is of disgust and outrage at their unconventional truth. Those who are embraced will be put on a pedestal and those who aren’t, serve as examples to steer clear of. The truth only becomes true if a sizeable number of people agree that it is, in fact, the truth and that certainly complicates the matter. Then what is the truth? Is there even a truth? Is your truth different from my truth? How true does truth need to be to qualify as the truth?

When people demand honesty from others, they don’t particularly mean it. Anyone who says they haven’t lied in their life is either lying or is godsent. The way a lie works out in the scheme of things can prod a person in the direction of honesty, or convince them to keep up the charades till she or he is caught. Really it comes down to whether people buy the lie or not. Some people lie all the time, some people lie sometimes and there are people who lie only when necessary but not by principle. We need to acknowledge it for what it is, there’s no shame in saying or admitting that we do.

The concept of “white lies” has always intrigued me. When we are children we’re told truth is invariably good and a lie is invariably bad. When we conduct our own experiments with truth like Gandhi did(or said he did) when we’re very young we learn that some lies are good and some truths are bad. When I was a kid I used to lie to my parents every once in a while, it’s natural for a kid to do it and my parents being who they are told me lying was a bad thing. But the same parents when I’d be brutally honest when guests came home, would say that I shouldn’t tell guests everything. Of course at that age, I tried to do what I was told. But when I was better equipped to decipher right from wrong, I learnt that my parents were technically telling me to keep secrets which in layman’s terms is lying.

I pondered the idea of too much honesty. There is such a thing as too much honesty, and I have faced the brunt of being too honest pretty hard. When I began marking my own boundaries of how much to tell whom and at what time, I slowly understood that more than 80 percent of the time I was lying and about 20 percent of the time I was being honest. People lie when they can’t face the truth and when they know what the repercussions of what saying the truth will be. But there comes a point when you can’t live in the dishonest world you created and you look for outlets for catharsis so that you don’t explode one day.

For me, my outlets became two friends I still share everything with and a sister who would not only listen but also give me solutions. It was much later when I became unabashedly honest with my parents. When I showed them my face behind the many masks I wore on a daily basis, it took them a while to accept it for what it was. Curiously the first reaction to the truth is always denial whether happy or sad. Sometimes we don’t say the truth because we think it’s not worth fighting for and occasionally it isn’t. They say pick your battles wisely. We lie to avoid confrontation because in the process of defending your lie you realise you should have told the truth in the first place and could have saved yourself all the trouble.

Humanity promotes lies, secrecy, and cheating. It comes to us naturally, because it helps us survive. It protects us from scrutiny. But the relief is only temporary. You can live your entire life as a lie, I have fallen into that trap, but you can only drag that lie along for a while before keeping up that lie takes more energy out of you than just saying the truth and facing the music. Everything comes full circle. But its impossible to expect honesty, I made that mistake as well, I thought people would be as honest as I was with them. It doesn’t work like that. You may be very honest but people will not believe you and you can say a million lies and people will buy all of them. But if you’re lying to someone be sure that someone is lying to you in equal measure somewhere.

I don’t like to reveal too much in conversations that’s why I found a cover in writing. It’s almost like confessing, and I can then go and look at myself in the mirror and encounter my reality. That’s all I want out of my life to be able to face myself and my conscience every day. I can lie to everyone but not myself, at the end of the day the mask can only get you so far, the rest is all you.


One thought on “The mirror and the mask

  1. PGP says:

    Excellent way to discover oneself and the world around us. You are a fine person. Do look at the mirror, stare at yourself and smile at the way we have to deal with the world with so many masks and wonder/admire nature or God, who designed or helped humans evolve this way. There may be no need to feel guilty or feel bad about the world around you.Keep writing to help me learn more.


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