For the last couple of days, I’ve been thinking about the masks we wear. No, I’m not talking about Mardi Gras masks or the Halloween variety. I’m talking about the smile we plaster on our faces each morning when we go out and greet the day. Thank you 8lb, 6 oz Baby Jesus for Facebook because that site is the catalyst for most of my ideas. So I’m scrolling through my feed and I come across “that family”. You know the one. They are so cute and the kids look like angels and Mom and Dad look so happy and serene but then you hang out with them and you learn the truth. You realize those kids are hellions and all those pictures you see are as staged as reality tv. The whole thing goes down like this. The children are trying to kill each other with their bare hands until one of the parents yells, “Smile.” The children stop what they are doing, hug each other and put on smiles worthy of Vogue. The picture is taken and before it’s even uploaded to Facebook with a caption like ‘they love each other so much’ or ‘sibling love’ or you remember my personal favorite, ‘blessed’, those kids are back fighting like they are trying out for WWE.
Next comes the ‘I’m great’ mask. That is the one we use when someone asks us how was our day or how we are doing. It doesn’t matter if it’s your local Starbuck’s barista or your co-worker. It’s almost automatic. We respond ‘I’m great’ and ‘I’m fine’ along with our plastered on smile without hesitation of thought if we are actually ‘great’ or ‘fine’. I’m not saying we should all turn into whiney, bitchy people moaning about how horrible our life is and how everything is just a dumpster fire but wouldn’t it be nice if every now and then someone actually said, “My day is shit but I’m hoping it will get better, thanks for asking?”
That very thing happened to me yesterday at my one of my kid’s library. The librarian and I have some downtime during my shift where we shelve books together and just chat. I asked her how her break was and she sighed and asked if she could be honest. I replied, of course, and she proceeded to tell me how her holiday was really kind of rotten thanks to some recent family events and tragedies. My heart went out to her. I thanked her for her candor. Ever since I’ve been thinking how wouldn’t be nice if more of us were willing to admit when life isn’t great. Wouldn’t it be great if we saw more sibling murder fights and less contrived bullshit on Facebook? Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all a little more authentic and true and less contrived?
Again, I’m not calling for a license to bitch. I’m calling for a license to be real. Everyone is so worried about artificial things in our food, our homes and on our person, what about the artificial within. I get it, it’s a defense mechanism, but why do we need a defense mechanism against those closest to us – our family and friends. I’m not going to throw down any gauntlets and challenge anyone to be more real but I think it would be really cool if some of the people reading this tried being more real and let me know how it worked out for them. Did you find you find it liberating, hard or are you just such a straight shooter that it really doesn’t affect you? I’m curious to know.
P.S. – Incidentally, if you do want to wear a mask now is a perfect time. The Mardi Gras season began on January 6 and lasts until Tuesday, February 13. Ash Wednesday and Valentines all in one day. Do you think the Church will give us a skip on fasting and repenting since it’s chocolate’s biggest day? Yeah, I don’t think so either.
P.P.S. – That mask photo was lifted off the internet. No copyright infringement intended. Remember, I’m broke and doing this for free.