Lowering our masks

by Bonnie










Some thoughts on David’s post over at Raptitude:

We are 99% unknown to ourselves beneath that mask.

Who we know as ourselves is made up of the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. Where do we get these stories? We collect them from a very small sample of our experiences, often giving the greatest weight to the ones that were traumatic, the ones that hurt. They left the deepest impressions.

To cover the vulnerability we feel in the wake of these stories, we create masks. We grow up thinking there will come a time when we can take them off, but then we somehow simply merge with everyone else in believing life is some kind of perverse masquerade where everyone’s stuck in ill-fitting costumes, ill fitting masks. Forever.

Beneath our masks we keep hurting, and in our pain we hurt one another. Trauma begets trauma.

And make no mistake, we’re all multiply traumatized now. Conscious of it or not, the every-kind-of-pain humans are inflicting on one another around the world at this moment has its impact on every one us, on our hearts, on our minds, on our hopes, our dreams.

When we’re playing off each other’s masks, we exist in a fictional universe, everyone pretending to be something they’re not. We’re perpetually stuck ‘responding’ from mask to mask. Any claim about reality, about who humans are or what we’re capable of is all based on fictions. We have absolutely no idea who we would be if we all really showed up. We have no earthly idea of what our planet could be like.

We’re not condemned to this, though, it’s just what we’re agreeing to do right now. In actuality, our potentials for true response-ability exceed our wildest imaginings.

What we need to be able to see, together, is exactly what David is pointing at: This is our shared story, and we can help one another. When we begin to lower our masks with each other, revealing our mutual vulnerability, the whole world changes. In an instant. Because the 99% of ourselves that we’re not aware of contains vast potentials for intelligence and responsiveness that we can’t activate by ourselves. We need to play together! Authentically. Truthfully. Intimately.

This is the growth edge for us humans, and there is a growing number of us ready to risk being traumatized again, to trust enough to step out. We can do this.

How we experience ourselves in any moment depends on the uncountable influences and connectivities of that unique moment, only the tiniest sliver of which we have any awareness at all. In a very real and practical sense, we arise in response to each unique moment.

When we drop our masks at last (and this becomes more contagious as it rolls on!) the fictions fall away. We begin in each unique moment to actually respond to real, actual people in our real, actual world with and for each other, and for this incredible living mystery we call the universe.

O, and I’m not suggesting everybody suddenly gets vulnerable with everybody: we just begin by deepening our closest relationships, and then small groups of deeper relation grow naturally.

We’ll wonder what took us so long.