I was talking with a friend this week about the different masks we wear when we go different places. There’s a work mask, family mask, friend mask, public mask, and somewhere, often buried deep is our true authentic ourselves. The problem is that we become so accustomed to wearing masks we never take one off for too long or risk showing the world who we are under all the fantasy. The conversation continued and we wondered if any of the illusions we create could eventually lead us to allow others to see the genuine person.
The conversation continued and we wondered if any of the illusions we create could eventually lead us to allow others to see the genuine person. We are so accustomed to hiding the “real” us, the person we think people won’t like, that wearing masks become our default and our defense.
The question becomes how do we break free of this habit of wearing masks? Overcome the fear of our authentic selves not being good enough? How do we begin to discover who we are when concealing our true identity has been our goal for most of our life? This is the reason we are here now, the journey we are meant to travel, the discovery, not of a lifetime, but of life.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes
but in having new eyes.”
One of the hardest things we do on the path of wisdom is to discover we are not all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise. From the time we are born, we are learning. It might be good, positive lessons, not so good, or, most likely, a mixture of both. As we get older we hopefully begin to separate the good from the not so good. We learn that there are lessons we need to relearn and others we simply need to forget.
One of the most important lessons is we are not meant to carry the mountains we climb. Each of us deals with challenges, struggles, and difficulties. Some navigate incredibly tough paths because of what they endured as children, adolescents, and adults. The climb to the top of the mountain, to overcome these negatives is a great success. However, once the top is reached the question is asked; “What now?” When all you’ve known is pain and heartache it becomes a part of you. Reaching the mountain top doesn’t bring the joy and relief expected.
Unfortunately, some, instead of descending the mountain and continuing on with the journey now free of great burden pick up the mountain and carry it with them. The mountain has become a part of them and to separate from it is like breaking off a piece of themselves and leaving it behind.
Wisdom teaches us how to climb, how to descend and how to let go. It may still feel we are leaving part of ourselves behind but we trust our journey will take us to a place, a discovery of our new selves.
Out of the Way –
One of the fathers I met with today told me about a hiking spot not far from where we live. I hadn’t heard of the trail or the waterfall it leads to until he said he hiked it this past weekend. “Getting there was easy, all downhill. Coming back, however, is a different story.” We’ve lived here for almost two years and I’m still discovering new places to go and sights to see.
Life is similar, the paths we walk are filled with experiences and surprises. Sometimes what we’re looking for is close but our journey towards it isn’t.
Similarly, the way of grace and wisdom isn’t straight either. There are seasons and times we must go out-of-the-way in order to find the fastest route. It doesn’t make sense but it’s the paradoxical trail we call life.
Our way may not be straight but if we trust the path it will lead us to where we need to go.
One of the most surprising discoveries on the path of wisdom is the realization that our greatest struggle, obstacle to peace and contentment is found within not without.
When we are young we are convinced we could right the world if given the chance and the power but as we mature and grow in truth we realize we cannot oftentimes even right ourselves.
There was a time when I could pinpoint and point out every flaw in my enemy. However, the deeper I journey into the dark places of my shadow self, see my own shallowness, selfishness and sinfulness, the more grace and empathy color the lenses by which I see others.
Hatred, strife, discord, the making of others into our foes is distraction. We have no peace outside of ourselves because we have not found it within.