There is wisdom in knowing our past harm. It is a good practice to better understand how to avoid a repeat performance of certain events. We can try the best we can to avoid falling too many times, but it occasionally happens. How long the ground remains familiar is bound by an individualized timetable.
Quite literally, the rain is falling outside as the countryside anxiously anticipates the clouds to wander off. Hoping they cooperate and acknowledge the importance of the weekend and the impactful role they play in it. I don’t feel much like celebrating. Dutifully I shall play the game. But first, I need to grab something.
I always leave it in the same spot as before. Finding it for this weekend shouldn’t be very difficult. Lately, it has become as much a part of my daily attire as my shirt. In fact, it is rare to leave the house without it. We all have one, and we all place it as often as needed. Some of us wear it the full year around; others chose to adorn it a bit more scarcely. Regardless, it’s as common as water and translucent, like the pain of smoked glass or an ice cube.
The mask fits me well. It adjusts to my sense of being, my emotional state, and my trauma barometer. It has mystical power like a gimmicked wand, to somehow make my outward persona appear as if I were smooth Teflon on the other side of my skin. This smile upon my face appears genuine, my laugh robust and hearty, and a carefree demeanor is pretended to shine bright—what an incredible illusion. For a recent period of time, I have become an actor thanks to this very special prop. I have mastered it well indeed.
This current state has forced me to consider a little more about the people around me. Those of which I am acquainted, and those who I have never met. So many others also find themselves existing in a similar state of uneasiness, sadness, grief, or melancholy. Going about their lives outwardly displaying as if nothing were wrong, when in all actuality – everything is wrong. After all, society demands we best avoid our weaknesses being displayed unapologetically in front of others. We mask up and thus hide our emotional fragility.
Friends and family shall gather around the pool, picnic table, beach, or simply the backyard this weekend. Familiar smiles, the wind carried laughter of children, and the pulsing embers deep below a bonfire will add a certain atmospheric backdrop to celebration. Certainly, there shall be many who shall go through the motions of the weekend without ever enjoying themselves. Those around them will never know. They, too, are actors in this great play of twisted, invisible angst.
For certain, the scars of trauma remain hidden on the inside and are never visible. They become aggravated when scraped by the moments of randomness and chance, piercingly uncomfortable to bear. So, we hide out within our own bodies. Call it an acquired cosmic gift or some grand coping mechanism. It is impossible to define exactly what this behavior is all about.
Because there are no obvious tears doesn’t ever mean they aren’t still flowing. Two inches from pain, we play the game. Disguising ourselves is so much more subtle than showing we are human. It shouldn’t be this way, but it is. And so, there are many masks.
Don’t ever worry about me; I will be just fine. It is the man sitting alone on the park bench by the water who smiles back as you walk by him. His telling eyes disagree with his action. Or the woman counting change from the bottom of a purse making small talk as she fumbles. Deep inside, she is terrified to consider where the next coin is coming from. Or the young man sitting at the stool next to you who stares into his drink while laughing at the joke being told by the bartender. All the while, his well-timed smile attempts to hide the ongoing chaos within.
Be mindful as you find yourself standing next to the stranger before you in the grocery store, in line for the concert, or awaiting a table for dinner alone this weekend. It could be their bereaved tracks of trauma need a little bit of love and simple kindness from the universe around to help them repair.
Until then, the mask is worn. No one knows, absolutely no one.
“Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player.
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage.
And then is heard no more.”
(act 5, scene 5, lines 26–28)
Practice empathy and compassion always. So many people need it these days.