I was watching a terribly sad film on Sunday.
I don’t know why I do that to myself. Watch sad movies that is. I end up being beside myself with empathy for the characters. By the end of the film I was surrounded by snot filled and tear soaked tissues.
I’m way too sensitive and am always deeply moved by everything.
There was a priest in it. Actually the role was played by Javier Bardem. I much preferred the part he played in “Eat, Pray, Love” alongside Julia Roberts. He preaches to the congregation. All of the life lessons to live a happy life. All of the ways to find God.
Yet, the priest himself could not take his own advice. He was desperately unhappy. Lonely. In fact, he himself is searching for God.
I think that a lot of us have two sides to us.
The side that we allow the world to see, and that hidden side, carefully guarded, and tucked away safely to protect ourselves from pain. Do we all have a tough exterior and a marshmallow core?
I believe that we all wear masks. The mask of perception. The way we would like to be portrayed. The one where we appear a certain way, yet we have this other part to us, that we don’t allow anyone to see. So is it actually a mask of deception?
I don’t think so. It’s more a self-preservation mask. We all have our secret sorrows that very few people, if anyone, truly know anything about.
Here’s a few examples.
I know plenty of people that are well into their 30’s who always look brilliant. They wear the mask of an envied lifestyle. They are adorned in designer label everything, they have a full social calendar, they drive the coolest cars, their Facebook and Instagram feeds are filled with exotic holiday snaps. But in actual fact, they still reside at home with their parents. They often long for a partner and a nuclear family.
To the happy family with their 2.3 children, their 4WD, and their life consisting of ferrying their children to school, birthday parties, and sporting events. They wear the mask of normalcy. They appear to be happy, yet the husband has a porn addiction, bored with the mundaneness that is now his life, and the wife spends her time distracting herself with her new found freedom in the career she has now had the chance to finally go back to after her children have become old enough.
To the couple who wear the mask of luxury. They have a beautiful home, expensive cars, brilliant careers. Yet the husband is engaged in extra-marital affairs, and the wife pretends she has no knowledge of it, in order to maintain the wealth and status they’ve so tirelessly helped create. In secret, she cries herself to sleep most nights with the knowledge that her life is a far cry from what it appears on the surface.
To the single woman, who wears the mask of independence, who happily indulges in anything she feels like, whenever she feels like, yet she spends most nights alone, pining for her knight in shining armour to come save her from herself. For the companionship she so desperately craves.
Let’s shift the focus to me.
Who do you think I am?
Yes, you all know I’m a writer. I have no children. I’m 34. I rarely brush my hair. My flippancy, aloofness, and humility being the overtone for most of the articles I write. My deep introspect helping me to create.
But I too have my secret sorrows that are kept carefully and meticulously guarded behind a confident exterior. Not that I personally label myself as confident. I’m anything but. That’s a label awarded to me by others. Yet my life is complex. Confusing. And for several reasons I am not willing to go into those complexities. Yet, I wear the mask of indifference.
That’s the self-preservation mask I’m talking about. And we all do it.
In the movie I was watching, there was a scene that stuck with me.
It was a scene where the actress in the film was in a swimming pool. The camera filming her from beneath the water. She was using her fingers to draw on the surface of the water.
“I write on water, what I dare not say.”
How profound and moving this scene was.
And this is something all of us do.
Write on water, what we dare not say.
Nobody wants to be perceived as weak. Vulnerable. Everyone is content with the mask. The illusion.
Just remember that saying of nobody knowing what goes on behind closed doors.
Nothing is what it seems on the surface.