In the process of moving things around my house, I came across some masks in my collection. It got me thinking about today’s keep. I wear masks. Maybe for self-preservation, self-protection and out of an abundance of caution. But I wear masks. My innermost thoughts, of how I feel, how I act, how I even speak are reserved for very few privileged people that get to see me in all my nakedness, all my flaws, all my imperfections. For them, I am maskless. They see me. They see my fears, imagine my dreams, listen to my hidden ideas, or help to soothe my pain. For them, I am maskless, able to freely love and be loved, freely give and receive, and through them, with treasured moments and memorable memories, I live. When I am maskless, I live. My best life. Every keep is my own unique attempt at being maskless, my attempt to live.
I contemplated being maskless with some colleagues the other day, but I couldn’t. I put on my mask. I wore it intently. I didn’t want their judgement. I didn’t want to be misunderstood, misinterpreted or even misconstrued. All the mis-beginning words came to mind. So I wore my mask, kept my thoughts to myself and listened intently. I heard the pauses, caught the sighs, the uncertainties and even genuine desire for more, but I couldn’t remove my mask. I kept it on. The more they asked, the more I fixed my mask, intently and listened deeply. They cannot get to you when you protect yourself. Sometimes how you choose to wear your mask is necessary. That in so many ways our lives are hidden, tangled with different masks, is of interest to me lately. It is both what I yearn for, ‘to uncover my mask,’ and what I fear, ‘to keep it on indefinitely for self-protection.’ The tension between my yearnings and fear is powerful to me. For it’s my choice after all, to wear a mask. My own powerful choice. Some may say isn’t it a burden, to wear a mask. If your mouth is full of blood, if your thoughts often provoke, both old and young alike, if your presence is brilliant, like salt or light, or like a lone eagle that soars, then wearing a mask becomes a necessity. As far as my future is concerned, until you earn the privilege, I’ll keep wearing masks.