As I sit here with clay masked neatly over my face, I ponder the weird new world that we are living in. Yesterday I went to the Supermarket; a major excursion and a bizarre dystopian experience… As I wandered round the aisles with my red polka dot face mask (a hand made appropriation from the left overs of my Rosie the Ricketeer costume, worn for Purim only 6 weeks ago) I awkwardly try to smile with my eyes to the other fully masked patrons who pass me by. I see my cousin who is now working there and want to hug him, but we cant. A little girl in a trolley looks over at me with big eyes of wonder and I smile at her, feeling creepy without the curves of reassurance that my smile can so effortlessly give. I wave but feel even creepier doing it with a mask on. She is about 2.5 and looks at the with absolute fascination. I don’t blame her. I cant even imagine how weird a world this must be right now for toddlers and young kids. How are they internalising this madness? Smiles no longer received with the mouth, only our eyes to communicate with , the absurdity and unnaturalness of it is clear to us but perhaps just another part of this new life for them, easily accepted. Is this strange reality in fact drawing our attention to each others eyes more…? I gesture goodbye with a blink, and a wave, feeling weird all the while. I have never engaged with little kids whilst wearing a mask. I move on through the aisles, negotiating aisles and trolleys with the other masked men and women, and complete my mission. Somehow my groceries add up to a whopping $300. I hand over the last of my cash. I thank the mouthless cashier, and walk from one masked world out into the bigger one. Not a mouth or a smile in sight. I cannot get used to this.
As I drive home, I am struck by the irony of this moment in humanity. We have been living in a masked world for much longer then this moment… the only difference is it hasn’t been so brutally obvious as being plastered all over over our faces.
Our masks have been our neatly painted on with ruby lips and mascara, smiles pasted over frowns, bearded identities and terrifying scowls a cover up for emotional repression. Suits, and ties, and high heel masks, letters behind your name masks, and numbers in your bank account masks. Our masks have been everything that define us, divide us, and help us forget that we are all human beings, and that one day, every single one of us will die. Our masks have encompassed our entire lives, including our jobs and our titles, our bank accounts, our stories our histories. We have hid behind politics and religion, and righteous opinion, at times we have masked our true intentions with good intentions and have even fooled ourselves with our own self-betrayal. The masks we wear run deep and disguise the bleeding obvious, that beyond the stories, we all still have ourselves to work with till this ride on the earthly plane comes to a halt, yet again. These masks have taken us away from the simple pure reality of meeting one another on the same page, human to human, right here right now, as equally vulnerable to the onslaught of emotion that comes with being alive. As equally vulnerable to the throes of nature that can turn our world upside at any moment, and equally vulnerable to our unequivocal and inevitable destination - Death.
The mask that hides us from our mortality is so well concealed that we barely notice we are hiding at all. Though we know the fact of reality, we rarely talk about it, but we live life as if this life will go forever.. We live as if we have time to spend caring about who took the rubbish out last, and that extra bit of fat growing around our waist. About whether society will approve of us, or whether we are ‘high performing’ enough, or whether we ‘made.the.right.choice’. Life speeds by, with the present moment graciously keeping up with us every second of the way - if only we could wake up and notice, before its too late. Spirit/god/consciousness does not care about world domination, nor whose name is remembered throughout history… nor which religion or political party had the most compelling authority. None of this actually gets written down up there, and none of it matters. The only real measure of success that exists, is how much we dared to love, to share, to be kind and compassionate with one another and ourselves in this world of ‘otherness’ and separation. The rest is an imaginary story - hidden behind a mask of reality.
As we find ourselves wearing masks over our masks, I wonder if this case of double negative could actually lead to a positive…? How powerful it could be for us all to look into each others eyes, in an attempt to understand where the ‘other’ is coming from. To understand each other. To see one another’s reflection within our own fragile humanity, and the blessings we all have to be here, surviving another day as human beings on planet earth. To be reminded that we are all in this together… and to appreciate that random stranger’s smile again one day, when it can finally be released back into the world. What it could mean to never ever take the power of our own smile for granted again…
So next time you go out, try to catch the eyes of the people walking by and remember that no matter how thick a mask we wear, no matter how fooled we have become by our outfits and disguises, we are so very much in this together, simply humans on earth making our way through the galaxy.
17 years world traveller, internationally recognised award winning body painter with a background in Anthropology, Orly delves deep into the enquiry of what it means to be a human being and ceaselessly expresses her art whilst following her heart. , Specialising in mimitism (camouflage), Orly's current expressions are a moving living creative and expansive entity that represents her passion for re-merging humanity with the earth from which we came, sustainable conscious living, healing the sacred feminine as we learn to respect our mother earth and advocacy for balancing commercial gain with global and local contributions.