The first collective discussion of the year started with ‘masks’. I chose this topic after talking to a friend about being caught behind masks/identities that are no longer serving us.
Throughout the two discussions this week we ventured far and beyond through the channel of the ‘mask’. Covering questions of authenticity, addiction, and what lies beneath our masks.
A common theme entering both conversations was the function of the masks we wear; a mechanism to smoothen the transition towards creating an environment in which we can be our authentic foolish or child selves without being judged for it.
We quickly realised the mask is on a parallel path to the way medication is used and abused in our society. The purpose is a transitionary tool used to reach a certain equilibrium.
However, just with every technology we seem to become attached to the convenience of them. Whether being money replacing trust or masks replacing our authentic selves or pharmaceuticals replacing the responsibility of looking after our health.
‘Convenience is a con’ - unknown west ender on ZZZ.
This has stuck with me from the moment I heard this driving through West End in Brissie. Convenience created through technology when abused is an escape, masking the discomforts and reality of being. Consequently creating a delusional synthetic matrix.
Technology is not exclusive to the external but also relevant to how we appear, show up in the world and how we think of ourselves. Our human coping strategies, our winning formulas, our masks, our stories that keep us safe but can easily end up driving us.
How do I become aware of the mask I am wearing?
There was a debate around where the masks come from. Internally or externally? Are masks a natural occurrence or something totally synthetic? Both are true. Masks can begin as a skin growing out from the inside, that has its time of relevance and then is shed. Or we can be pushed into a role or identity for the necessity of work or responsibility. The dysfunction happens when we hold onto the old skin, or try to squeeze into a mask brought in from the outside that doesn’t fit. What are the symptoms of wearing a mask past its due date or in the wrong environment?
One human told the story of a man who’s work and public environment was oppressive and discriminatory. This man was timid and yielding in this environment. Yet, when he was amongst his family he was a tyrant, dominating the home environment.
We can easily see the imbalance here, his external public life needs more of the powerful assertive tyrant to stand up for himself and his familial environment needs more of a yielding and gentle influence.
I believe this imbalance is due to the incongruence between the mask and the expression calling for attention within.
Are you a people pleaser? Or a cool calm collected outsider that everyone wants to be friends with? Is this lonely?
We can be cool, a harmoniser and an assertive powerhouse in the appropriate environment and for the appropriate internal need to move through the world and re-organise the ecosystem authentically.
I personally had the experience of relying too heavily upon the people pleaser leaving my aggressive and assertive side in my blindspot; my shadow. I was averse to thinking or being assertive or aggressive in anyway. I had a poor relationship with this aspect of myself and therefore could not see that this energy was slowly eating away at me from the inside and being expressed unconsciously and negatively. The symptoms were isolation, not knowing what I wanted, deep resentment, anger and sadness.
Upon reflecting on this time of my life I can see these things more clearly but in that moment it was my body, mental state and my environment telling me that a change needed to be made. I went travelling and progressively found myself with less and less energy. I had no energy to wear a mask and my aggressive opinion marinated in anger and resentment flooded into the world, bringing forth the awareness of all that I had not let myself express. I began to dislike myself because I thought people did not like me and I sought to confirm this self aversion by being an agitator and cold hearted tyrant. Further practicing and making conscious this mask.
I was foolishly connecting with my assertive self and I was stumbling all over the place. My loyalty flipped and I despised the harmoniser/people pleaser and became attached to the mask of agitator and assertive warrior. Leaning too hard upon this I found myself once again alone.
Now I have made peace with both masks and have them each at my disposal to which I use to transition myself to my maskless state or next relevant skin. I see the harmoniser having powers of empathy, attunement and joy. A mask that unites and distributes responsibility and is inclusive. The warrior allows me to assert myself in the world, stand up for what I believe, and harness the power of self responsibility.
These are just two masks of the many nuanced ones that I wear and I am yet to be aware of.
What is beneath the mask?
This question unlocked the mysteries of the universe. Behind the mask is the boy in the bubble, said one human, another said the fool, a river of feeling and emotion, immortality, union, the unknown.
Perhaps our masks are our individual expressions of the universe. This is the universe expressed as the tyrant, the lover, the fool?
When we have no idea who we are or what we are, we are no longer wearing a mask.
Masks are ideas, stories that we use to build, navigate and create a world around us. However masks are inherently separating. So, if we wish to unite with the world around us we need to forget who we are, take off our masks, let go of all that we know and flow into a timeless immortal existence of infinite possibility.
What does the world look like if we all take off our masks?