Check Your Mask

645. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

It’s an early morning at the airport. The line through security snakes slowly forward. There is nothing to do but look at the faces and wonder at the lives that have sculpted these amazing masks. No one arrives at their face without living a big story. Some are distinct for their laugh lines; some are worn and tired. I see angry fearful masks and faces excited to step into the adventure. There are children, young faces like a new canvas, wide-eyed at this odd place, staring like me at the people shuffling along. The children dance or melt down. That, too, is part of the mask making process as their parents shush them or encourage them or simply sigh and take another step forward. Learn to express, learn to withhold, learn to ignore, learn to hide, learn to receive or reject…it all eventually shows in the face we assume.

I look at all of these faces, these distinct masks, and wonder if they recognize their story as unique, huge. Very few of us realize the enormity of our lives. Emily Dickinson lived much of her life confined to small garden and yet lived an extraordinary life; she paid attention. She looked and felt and shared. She feared and hid and failed. She loved mightily. The adventure of living, of vivid, rich experience is available in every moment.

I wonder what others see when they look at my mask. I make up stories for everyone as the line moves toward the man standing behind the desk stamping boarding passes, scrutinizing driver’s licenses, checking faces as proof of identity. I love that moment when the TSA agent lifts my license comparing the picture to my face. Sometimes I cross my eyes to get a rise out of them; most TSA agents have great humor when you treat them as humans instead of threshold guardians. They wear masks, too; masks of authority, masks trained not to show their humanity. Imagine how that imperative is sculpting their future face!

I wonder what masks we would wear if we gave ourselves full permission to share, to express, to feel… I wonder if there would be need for this slow line to face-checking if we actually allowed our humanness to show.

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