i need to do more stuff like this. right this moment, i am really missing my acrylic paints.
they're right under my bed, but i still need to look for a job, declare my major, fun stuff like that
Seam of the Mask:
The Fine Line Between Salvation and Damnation
By Benjamin Doane
It is not an uncommon feeling for someone to experience a distance between themselves and the population en masse; a difference sometimes more recognizable than others, but setting an individual apart from their peers with a barricade of misunderstanding. In my own experience there have been many such walls of reasons for separation; personal experiences and thought processes are subtle variations from the norm easily masked with comforting words and false smiles of softness to lubricate the cogs of sociality, but at the cost of being incapable of truly understanding what their own emotions and feelings means. We are a world of masked performers, who in the salvation of their craft also find their damnation.
Being a victim of this fashion, I began my career of survivalist thespian at a young age, where one’s impressionability might lead to seeds of greater things. My father was a bastard plain and simple, raping my mother and abusing my family until the ripe year of nineteen ninety eight. Now, being young, one’s natural response to pain and torment would be to cry. However, any experienced sadist knows that the responses of the victim are what make the whole experience so satisfying, and so a sobbing young boy would only attract further attention to predators. Hence, I developed an apathetic nature towards his blows, concealing my scars with stoic behavior, like a makeup artist might paint bruises onto the eye of a television detective; a deception hindering the development of my emotional growth. While I physically survived this chapter in my life, I cannot say that my emotions were entirely whole. For a long period I refused to cry; at the funeral of a family friend or over my grandfather’s open heart surgery. I had learned that tears were a sign of weakness, and they were to be ashamed of, so for six years I refused to cry.
However, this course barely protected me, let alone my family, who Dwight would terrorize with blows from punches and kicks, and barrages of projectile tomatoes not unlike a dissatisfied audience might assail the stage of a travelling theater with ammunition from the fruit stand. During one the final display on my eighth birthday, he had taken my brother into the living room to “teach him” some dreadfully important lesson when I intervened and threatened to kill him, unsure of how much I meant it, or how ready I was to act on it. Convinced that he would have ended my brother’s life that day, I threatened a six foot tall, two hundred pound man with anger issues, without giving consideration to the consequences, as though it were a monologue given under a spotlight, where afterwards I could return to my trailer. Improvisation is sometimes the only option in quickly paced scenarios, and thus the mask is used to quickly shift gears when reaction time becomes the critical difference between wasted film.
The ordeal with my father left me as a young boy with very little willpower to express my needs or ideas, and in thriving social cultures of public school politics, it was a struggle for me to order my hand above the others. Here the masks proved another blessing, where I was allowed to imitate people who had the confidence I lacked. Superheroes, archeologists, and classmates even were getting this right, and for those short seconds where I needed a voice or a fist, I could pretend to be one of them. This has its fallbacks thought, when one begins crossing boundaries of control and starts to emulate their characteristics better than their own, and at the age of eleven, while it is admirable to stand up for truth and justice, misinterpretation of a borrowed trait can lead even the best intentions astray. Taking matters into my own hands, I found that a playground was not very accepting to vigilantism, or when I toned down my act, snitching, and I earned a number of shiners before my mask fell apart and I could no longer pretend to be anything but a tormented and frightened little boy.
In Vegas casinos, they call them “tells;” little involuntary indications that a player has been less than truthful in their game. Natural thespians go through this phase like any cardshark before reaching their fullest potential, where they subconsciously try to sabotage their plans and guises. Some do it out of fear while others do it out of thrill, and others still simply slip up on what kind of mask they’re wearing, which in any case disturbs the illusion of the fabricated personality. My mother, being the insightful woman that she is recognized my uncomfortable attempts at personality falsehood by calling me on my nervous giggle, an poorly concealed depression and a propensity for grinning at the wrong moments, which gave me away every time I felt need to act braver than I felt. A disenchanted public is the most dangerous kind of public who will toss out their misallocated trust, and depending on my facial tics, and vocalization, a seasoned reader of me can decrypt and determine exactly what I am hiding at any given time; a flaw which would put any seasoned Hollywood actor out of work.
Another flaw to subscribing to the mask would be the unsolved problems that fester during the time between putting on one’s false face and taking it off again at night. During the day, the problem behaves like any suffocating organism in the sense that it grows clammy and starts a premature decay. With the bullies of middle school, I was convinced it was an one way road that led to my being pummeled as often as possible, because I failed to recognize the social web of loyalty any generation will spin for itself. Snitching on the children who brought their bowie knives on the bus, and spying on the black market trading card deals being cut by the tetherball courts, I was constantly defying the rationale of equipping the costume, and found myself trapped with weaknesses that I targeted me for such abuse. After months of ignoring the signs of obvious intolerance, I came to realize I was staving off a personal development that needed to happen for my physical survival, although by this point I was already ostracized and continued to be assailed, without the saftey insctruction of a master choreographer.
When spending one’s time imitating traits, the effort extolled to convince an audience is exhausting and depends so heavily on focus and determination, that many facets of one’s being become demoted to secondary status characteristics. After each instance of me masking a flaw or a dissatisfying trait, I had to strain to define myself and my attributes. Namely morality was the asset I struggled most with as it presented an avenue of expression through violence, and also a subtler one which less people would recognize but simultaneously more would appreciate. In essence, forgetting your own identity becomes an all too common, and doing so, you find yourself kicking people through doors, or with your tongue in the mouth of a woman you do not plan to love for longer than five minutes. Always, in every one of my trials, I had justified myself with righteousness akin to any exorcist or supreme court judge, but in these instances even my most earnest performances fell short of my greatest critic: myself. Reflecting back on it, I feel disappointment in my actions, not because they were dishonorable, but because they didn’t represent the man I was, or the man I hoped I was, or the man I thought resembled me most, since without the mask I was not sure who I was anymore.
I am still uncertain as to who I am, since so much of my being depends on what I feel is necessary for a given scenario. I try not to use the masks for my friends, but sometimes it feels so easy just to slip into another persona and prance around as that for an hour or so. While it may benefit me in the short term, the consequences of imagining yourself in someone else’s image affect not only you, but the people you love, and the reputation you own. For this one pays a pound of flesh, and perhaps their own peace of mind, sacrificing after resorting to an alternate personality, the biggest risk is trying to imitate yourself.