Example: "[Mary, Queen of Scots] loved St. Andrews, where she kept a small vacation cottage and often stayed incognito, doing her own shopping and cooking, and playing golf along the links by the Firth of Forth." -- From an article by Sally Jenkins in The Washington Post, July 15, 2010
This blog has oftentimes been my mask. My voice aloud, my identity incognito (for the most part)... and I find that Oscar Wilde was perhaps partially correct when he said,
"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth."
...but I do not think that this idea is entirely true. In the midst of the current political blizzard of lies, slanders and shallow promises, it is hard to see truth and the public masks that are worn aren't unlike those creepy clown masks with the empty eyes and painted smiles.
There are those rare and wonderful leaders who believe in honesty, revel in it, in fact... Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Sister Theresa, Mahatma Ghandi, and so on and so forth. No mask did they wear, to speak the truth.
I've found that I have different masques... different persona's for different circumstances and situations.
A masque for work
A masque for play
A masque for family
A masque for friends
A masque for various circumstances
I've wondered, when I gaze into the looking glass... if I wear a masque for myself too often. I wonder how much truth comes from behind these masques... if they are half truths, partially disguised for the viewer, partially revealed, because honestly, we really want people to know who we truly are, to some extent... or at least, we show them who we want them to believe we are.
Knowing that we constantly change; daily even, I am growing towards leaving the masques behind, so that I can see clearly, so that others can see me clearly and make no mistake about who I really am and what I really think.
To thine own self be true ~ remove the masques for my own perspective and for all of those around me, because if they are interacting with a masqued me, the self is lost in shadow and the interaction is skewed.
Actions speak so much louder than words ~ the truth will out, one way or another.
Truth is somewhere in the middle ~ there is a bit of honesty on both sides of the masque.
But... perhaps I will keep one or two masques around... for special occasions.
We've seen and done so much, you and I, haven't we?
Been through highs and lows together,
Sailed & flown through days & months & years, together.
We've laughed and cried, loved and fought,
You and I have watched so much time pass;
More than can be measured.
There is a bend in our road that you cannot see,
A change in the cadence of our walk.
There is a road that I must take alone, dear one,
And though I am letting go of your hand, know that I will
Always hold you in my heart.
I know there will be a day when this road brings me back
I will hold your hand to my cheek & embrace you so tightly.
But until then,
I have promises to keep; promises made to people
And I must keep my word.
So farewell, for a time, sweet friend.
May wings of Angels encircle you,
And keep you with my love,
Until I can return.
You know I do some of my best thinking in the shower, where there is no distraction, only the sound and feel of hot water and steam. Nothing there but soft light and the water, washing the world away, washing all of the little parasitic thoughts that constantly consume my mind, down my back in rivulets. 'I need to get the oil changed in the car, I need to call this friend, I need to go visit that friend, I wonder if I'll have time to clean out the closet in the guest bedroom this weekend, I hope my brother is doing well... and his kids... I better call, must get a birthday card and paper towels, and on... and on...
And there they go... sliding down the drain, and my mind clears and it almost feels like it's spreading, growing, right outside of my head, and I can hear and think from the inside out, instead of thinking about all the information coming in - I am able to focus on information going out.
This morning I breathed in the steam, let the world go away and started wondering about reality.
I think we are all in our own little reality, and all of our realities have overlapping areas where we share a cohesive reality; that realm where we can communicate and understand each other, for the most part. There is no normal and I think, no definite reality - because where is that bar set? Who could set it? Who could say 'this is reality and that is not' because they're looking at it from their own perspective, from their own mind, lifestyle and their own reality.
Albert Einstein had a fascinating reality. A different reality. Nikola Tesla. Leonardo da Vinci. Marilyn Monroe. Stephen King. That guy on the sidewalk with the guitar and the hat filled with loose change and a dollar bill. The little girl sitting in that desk at the school, staring out the window and finding herself somewhere completely separate from the shared reality of her desk in her classroom. The pastor of the church down the street. The woman who is beaten by an angry man nearly every day. The single parent struggling to raise children on their own. The performer who spends their life on Broadway under a spotlight. The politician...
I wondered how far realities stretch... there are some people who are so far gone from our shared reality that they are labeled insane; unfit for society. What a different world is their reality! How far do they all go; our realities... and how much are really shared? Is there more of one than there is of the other... our own individual realities and our shared realities? If we are in one more often than we are in the other, how does it shape our lives? Is it easy for most people to keep that line between the two, drawn - to keep them separated? Do they blend and mesh for everyone?
How much do we have control over, and how much can we change? What about what we can't see and those things that aren't tangible?
I know I could change a lot of my shared reality; and I could change quite a bit of my own individual reality... what I think, what I believe, what I say, how I live, what I do, what dreams I allow myself to indulge in, and what I refuse to accept in my life.
Every single one of those actions and indeed, even every inaction, has that ripple effect that changes our lives and the lives of those around us (and then in turn the lives around them... so many degrees of separation later), and really impresses the significance of the incomprehensibly dynamic world of controlled chaos that we live in.
A friend of mine recently got a Kindle for her birthday. She was very excited and reports that it is one of the best things she's ever gotten. I was surprised, as she's an avid reader, and I expected that she would miss reading real books.
She said she thought she'd miss them, too, miss turning the pages... but she's found that she doesn't, and is thrilled with her new electric book.
I am of another opinion.
I love to lose myself in every aspect of a real book. The introduction; I love the look of the book; it draws me in closer, and I examine if from all sides. The first touch; texture is enormously important... the feel of it underneath my fingers; sometimes course, sometimes gently worn, and the pages! Oh... the pages, some thick, and when I'm lucky, roughly hewn around the edges, or thin... like a parchment, delicate as a flower petal. Open it up and examine the inside; the style of the font and layout of the words that splay across the pages, like the skeleton of the body held in my hands, about to be fleshed out with the story that all of the words create. Breathing it in... the smell of a book is paramount; it tells age, care, quality... a whole other story altogether.
Familiarity attained, I find a comfortable cozy place to curl up and lose myself in the story between the covers. As on any journey, the first few steps are taken as there is yet another introduction, and the first few pages are turned, but before long, I am one with the characters, and hand in hand, we head out into their world, to share every experience until the last page has been turned and we take our leave of each other with the closing of the book, and the end of the story.
I somehow cannot find this experience with Kindle. I know it's great to have the convenience (is there anywhere you could take a Kindle that you couldn't take a book? The only power resource needed for a book is the imagination and a functioning brain...) and I know that we are progressing forward technologically. But what of libraries, whose hallowed halls I hold in a reverence on par with that of any giant old cathedral? I do not expect retrograde motion... I know that Kindle is here to stay, and it's a good option for some people. But I suspect that it will be all the rage for a while, and then, in time to come, something nostalgic and sweet will happen...
I think it will be the same thing that happened with cd's and records. Records made a comeback. There's nothing like listening to an old album, with the soft rustling scratch that accompanies the songs as the needle winds it's way around and around from the outside in. Many friends have smiled with fond sentiment when I put an old Beatles album on and we listen to the way it used to be.
So too, will be the way of books, perhaps, in years to come. Friends will slide them off of my shelves and open them with a reminiscent gaze, gently touching the pages, turning them slowly, and thinking how wonderful it was, once upon a time, to explore endless worlds in this way.
Mid October a few years ago, I found myself feeling inspired and crafty and standing in the aisle at the supermarket, paging through a holiday magazine looking at those fancy schmancy pumpkins that are carved into amazing Jack O'Lanterns.
I decided that it didn't look that difficult and that I ought to make one. The timing was good, a couple of weeks before Halloween. It would last, I thought. This couldn't be that difficult, I was certain.
I bought a good size pumpkin, parked myself on a large towel on the garage floor on a sunny afternoon with the garage door open and the radio on and went to work. Cleaned it out, carved the lid, and then prepared to make my image.
I pulled out a Peanuts color book and found a great image of Snoopy that would be perfect on a pumpkin. Snoopy is requisite Halloween subject matter, considering The Great Pumpkin. I taped it to the pumpkin, took a toothpick and poked dots all along the lines that needed to be carved out; sort of a 'carve along the dotted line' idea. Dotting done, I removed the color book page and set to work with my special pumpkin carving knife.
At first, things seemed to be going well and I was fairly pleased with the results... but then I overestimated the carve and tried to fix it with extra toothpicks pushed into the inside side of the pumpkin and superglue. A word to the wise... superglue does not work on pumpkins. It does, however, work very well on fingers, paper towels, cloth towels and plastic carving knives.
In the end, I was relegated to carving my usual simple Jack O'Lantern face into a new pumpkin.
California isn't in a golden state, when it comes to hitting the books. TIME did a story on several teachers in several towns who are paying for their own supplies and going to every creative and extreme measure they can imagine, in order to come up with not only the tools they need to teach, but even basics like pencils and paper to run the classroom and their own vacuums to keep it clean.
Almost $17 billion was cut from California's education system in the last 2 years. $17 BILLION.
That is an appalling number.
It is estimated that an additional $2.4 billion will be taken in the coming year.
When teachers resort to cleaning their own classrooms after a day of teaching because the janitorial staff has been let go or had hours cut back, when they have paper curtains held together with duct tape, when they have to have car washes or bake sales to raise money for supplies and go to garage sales to come up with tools to teach children, things have gone severelywrong. This state of affairs isn't isolated to California; it's happening all over our country.
Where is this train wreck headed?
What happens to the most powerful nation in the world when the bulk of the children who will run it in varying positions and degrees in 3 decades have almost no education? Even now, the national rate of high school dropouts is stunning - Diplomas Count showed statistics at 68.8% graduation rate in 2007. There is no indication that it has improved since then.
This is not an issue.
This is a crisis that needs immediate attention and change. It is not only crucial on an individual level for each student that loses the opportunity to reach their full potential through better education, but that domino effect winds it's way up through the community into a national level and then it affects the world. If the U.S. does not have citizens with the knowledge to further this nation in every capacity then it falls behind other nations and a sociological revolution becomes probable, if history is any indication at all.
Knowledge is indeed power. Without it, we are crippling our future, the future of our nation, and the delicate balance of relations with the nations we share this world with.
I saw a bumper sticker once that said, "The world will be a better place when our schools have all the money they need and the military has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber."
I've said before that George Bush's education strategy was 'no child left behind... the platoon.' Uneducated people who have no idea how to think critically are easily controlled, and give far too much power to those few who would use it for their own gain and purpose. This is not the ideal of our nation, nor of our forefathers who fought and died to make it what it could be. Masses of ignorant citizens become sheep, are expendable, and the integrity of our future is lost because we cannot contribute to furthering the progress of mankind or even ourselves.
It is not with power in might that we could reach unimaginable realities, but with minds fueled by knowledge that have the capability of attaining limitless possibility.
I was leaving a comment on a friend's blog yesterday, when I paused for a moment to look at the phrase, 'Choose an identity' under the comment box. I could use my blog pseudonym, OpenID, a name/url or be annonymous. Choose an identity. Decide who it is that I wish to portray myself as to the world at large. It made me smile and wonder about all the identities I would choose, if given the opportunity to do so.
I would choose to be so many people.
A secret spy with no identity at all; 00Charlie's Angels
A right hand to Martin Luther King Jr., marching alongside him
An adventuring archaeologist (ala Lara Croft)
A nameless member of the Peace Corps serving 3rd world countries
An ingenious inventor in a secret lab, creating brilliant wonders that would change the future of the world for the better (ala Tesla, Einstein, Franklin, Edison, DaVinci)
An elementary school teacher
A professional dancer (ballet/ballroom)
A student of DaVinci; while he was living
A race car driver
An Air Force fighter pilot
A painter who lives by the sea and sells my art on the docks, and/or in Paris, in Montmartre, selling paintings on the sidewalk
A photojournalist who travels the world and creates images of humanity and culture, printed in Natl Geo, Life and Time, whose photos give the world a reason to change the way we all live
A novelist who has the luxury of writing for a living; while living all over the world
...oh the list could go on for a while.
Who would you be, if you could choose an identity?
The power of charity sows deep in my heart, and I reap and gather the wheat in bundles and give them to the hungry.My soul gives life to the grapevine and I press its bunches and give the juice to the thirsty.Heaven fills my lamp with oil and I place it at my window to direct the stranger through the dark.I do all these things because I live in them; and if destiny should tie my hands and prevent me from so doing, then death would be my only desire. For I am a poet, and if I cannot give, I shall refuse to receive.-Kahlil Gibran
"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant." ~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy."~Guillaume Apollinaire
A Proud Member of The Shameless Lions Writing Circle
Meet Viaggiatore... the world traveler. One of 48 Lions of Lyon, France in The Shameless Lions Writing Circle. He's GONE! He only just arrived! Now where in the world did he go... would you mind looking to see if you can find him somewhere about this page?
"Light tomorrow with today"~Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The Little Black Box
Caroline Smailes novel Black Boxes
Click on DECIDE on the Little Black Box... and let your choices determine your path... there's no telling where in the world you will go!
"Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind." ~Samuel Johnson
"Hope - the recognition, by true foresight, of better things to be reached hereafter." ~John Ruskin
"Scarlett, world traveller that you and V. are, you are entitled to drop foreign phrases like rose petals on garden pavers, like so many coins upon a server's tray, like so many visa stampings on a passport." ~Pawlie Kokonuts
"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."~Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Success supposes endeavor" ~Jane Austen
"Love the moment, and the energy of that moment will spread beyond all boundaries." ~Corita Kent