Archived 12-03

The Many Masks I Wear?

By Larry John

There are many days of my life that I wonder who I am. The fact is in my life I wear so many “masks” that sometimes I get confused and I am not sure who it is I really am. Depending on the day I want to be a Cowboy, an Advertising Executive, a Writer, a Retired businessman, a Real Estate tycoon, a Business and Marketing Consultant, a Harley rider, a Father, a Husband, a Lover, a Friend, a “funny guy,” a “thinker,” a Political genius, a Horseman, a Rancher, an investor, and the list goes on and on. Some days I wear all these “masks” and more, and never once am I the Larry that really lives inside me and underneath all the masks. Not only do I wear these “masks” but I have a “costume” that goes with every one of them. I wear boots for some, a hat for another, a suit for one, a leather jacket for another, shorts and a T-shirt for the next, Wranglers, Dockers, sandals, tennis shoes, flip-flops, ties, no ties, button-downs, belts with big buckles, no belts at all, etc. Each costume helps me be more of the person in the mask. Without the costumes the masks don’t fit. It is hard to be a Cowboy in flip-flops and a swimsuit. Yet my point still is, I am not sure that I really know the person under all these masks.

I have always told close friends that I go to my Ranch to find Larry. There at the Ranch lives the “real Larry” because it is at the Ranch that the masks all come off and the real Larry appears. And the funny thing is it takes a few days for the real Larry to show up. When I first get there, I am wearing one of my masks whether it is business, cowboy, father, or just a “tired” retired.  And after a few days, the masks and the costumes come off and the “real” Larry shows up. Most of the time, I like the real Larry. He is much simpler, quiet, and less exciting than the Larry that most of my friends and family know. This Larry forgets about fame, money, control, influence, greatness, and being talented and smart. He just exists. I am what I am. This simple Larry doesn’t hate people. He loves his family, friends, and all of mankind. He loves the simple things of life like sunshine, rain, wind, food, music, gardening, mowing the lawn, walking, nature, and the billions of stars in the sky. This Larry sleeps all night long. This Larry eats less and more healthy. This Larry loves life.

And as my many masks come off, I get to know the person I really am. I don’t have to act. I don’t have to act like I am happy, because I am happy. I don’t have to act like I like people, because I do like people. I don’t have to wear the mask and costume of a loving Father, because I am a loving father. When all the pressures of life are taken from my heart and mind, my heart and mind are free to be free and the real Larry appears. But just like most prophets and thinkers who come down from the “mountain” after gaining enlightenment to start living again with the masses of humans, the masks appear again, the costumes become important again and I put the masks and the costumes back on. Then the “real Larry” becomes no more than a memory and the “Larry of the world” becomes his same old sad and miserable self of masks and costumes. Why? Why? Why?

Why can’t the real Larry live in the real world? Is it because the real world is not real at all? Perhaps the world itself is wearing a mask. Perhaps the real world we call real is sadly incognito. That which the world says is important is not really that which is important. Perhaps money, fame, control, power, sex, influence, sports, politics, big homes, expensive cars, and all the toys are just the masks the world wears. Perhaps as we are stripping all our masks from our face, we have to strip the masks the world wears from its face also. At the Ranch the world has no masks. At the Ranch I have no masks. At the Ranch there is nothing getting in the way of Larry and the world being ourselves. No silly masks. Just Larry and the World being what we were made to be, ourselves!

But we all can’t move to our own private Ranches and sacred groves to escape the world and ourselves. We all must learn to live with ourselves “in the world” but not “of a world” of masks and costumes. These masks are so easy to put on, but are extremely hard to take off. The pain of stripping off a mask and letting others see us as we really are hurts more than most any physical pain. We have all forgotten what we look like without the masks and costumes that we wear. I once had a friend of mine who said he couldn’t feel good about himself unless he was wearing a white shirt and tie. His costume had become so a part of him that the “him” that was underneath the costume had been forgotten. He didn’t like the man he was without the white shirt and tie. The man with the white shirt and tie allowed him the acceptance he needed from others and from himself.

I once knew a friend who ran away from the world to another place looking to find himself only to find as the Hindu saying goes, “Where ever I go, there I am.” Sure you can change the masks you wear, but a mask by any other name is still a mask. The place doesn’t make the man, the man makes the place. The costume doesn’t make the man, the man makes the costume. We must all look at ourselves; really look at our real selves, without the masks of titles, logos, and clothes. Wherever we go, there we are. We know the “man looking back in the mirror” regardless of the masks and costumes we put on.

I am what I am and nothing more. Nor do I want to be something more. The real me is my dearest friend. The “me” with the mask put on is the devil, even the Great Deceiver.  He who is the originator of the greatest lie is me. I put on my masks and think that I am a different person, but the real person that I am knows better. I can’t lie to myself very long until I either believe the lie or hate the lie. Believing the lie doesn’t make it real; it only makes it a bigger lie. And the bigger the lie, the bigger the pain, and the bigger the pain the harder it is to take off the mask. It hurts too much.

Who are you? Are you the mask or the person beneath the mask? I am what I am and from time to time I “find” that person, and I like the person I find. Sadly, it is only “from time to time” that I find that person. Think about it.