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November 27, 2013

The Light Behind the Mask. ~ Jillian Locke

We’ve all made mistakes.

Some of us have lived a million lives in this one alone. Some of us have donned myriad masks, each bearing the energy and age and focus of that particular phase of our lives.

It’s easy to hide behind masks, to feel safe, protected. We choose our masks based on what we want to be, what we feel like we’re not. We choose materials to build a façade that reflects what we feel we’re lacking. We build a shield to hide our perceived shortcomings—our insecurities—all the while forgetting an essential truth: our insecurities almost always grow into our greatest strengths.

I’m a firm believer in the fact that the strongest, most caring, resilient and seemingly unbreakable people are those who have already been broken, over and over again. More often than not, they’re the most sensitive, bearing the ability to see and feel things at a level that the majority can’t even begin to understand.

Those people are the ones who have worn the thickest, most elaborate masks. But they’re also the first ones to shed them.

We wear different masks at different times in our lives for different reasons, but the main source always boils down to protection.

Survival.

Becoming someone you either do or don’t want to be to get through whatever difficult situation you’re dealing with. And when we’re done with those times, we hang up the mask, adding it to the growing collection, like it’s a trophy for a battle waged, a victory won.

We move onto creating the next mask. We forge this shield out of blood, sweat and steel, learning where the weakest fault lines reside so that we can reinforce them and make a better, stronger, more resilient suit of armor for the next war.

Because there’s always a new war to be fought. There’s always another sword with our name on it, waiting to be wielded and put to use.

We howl, unleashing our battle cry. We raise our weapons of simultaneous protection and destruction against the enemy, screaming and howling and raging bloody murder against the dark forces that we’re always just barely keeping at bay.

But we never stop to think—who is the enemy? Where are they? We keep charging the front lines, stampeding and pillaging our perceived opponents, focusing all of our intent and energy on these outside forces that we blame for everything.

In waging wars, we never emerge victorious. Through these illusionary successes and glories, we don’t create victors—we reinforce the victim epidemic.

We give power to ignorance, to hate, to rage. We become blind. We become weak. We exhaust our resources on pulverizing that which we don’t understand or agree with.

At the end of the day, we’re just killing ourselves.

Slowly, methodically, painfully, excruciatingly. We’re tearing away our vitality through hostility.

But what if we changed the masks we wear? What if we changed their purpose? Rather than hiding behind them, what if we used them to reflect our true self back to us?

Masks have been used for a plethora of reasons throughout the ages, ritual being one of the most ancient practices. The ritual we as a society seem to neglect the most is that of awareness through mindfulness and self-care.

Self-realization.

Self-truth.

We avoid trying to really see ourselves because we fear that what we’ll find inside is awful, and maybe some of it is. But I think what we’ll really find are all of the beautiful parts of us that have turned tail and hidden, bruised and damaged and afraid, running for the sake of self-preservation.

We’ll find the purest parts of ourselves that have been cowering in the cobwebs, spinning protective shields to swaddle our wounds. We’ll find the parts of ourselves that we still hold in the faintest of memory, like shadows or ghosts from another life.

If we’re brave enough, we can reclaim ourselves. We’ve fought so hard all along, but we’ve been fighting the wrong fight. If we can just turn all that energy and focus inward towards the journey, towards discovery, towards recovery, then maybe we’ll be able to excavate the true victor buried within the most lost depths of our core; the hero that gave up the sword and shield long, long ago—

—trading war for rest and blood for honey.

“Never forget who you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.”

~Tyrion Lannister

 

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

{Photo: Creative Commons.}

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