Day 92: “The Masks We Wear”

The word “Halloween” conjures a lot of different images for a lot of different people.

For some, it’s carved pumpkins (either traditional jack o’lanterns or elaborate, modern designs). For some, it’s cool breezes and fallen leaves. For some, it’s haunted houses, ghosts, and goblins. For some, it’s trick or treaters scurrying down the sidewalk. For some, it’s caramel apples and hot mulled cider.

For me, it’s costumes – and, more specifically, masks (not only the ones we wear on Halloween or on stage but also the ones we wear the other 364 days a year in our everyday lives – on the street or in the office or at school).

I spent a good bit of my time on the road over the weekend thinking about two specific masks – Erik’s literal mask in The Phantom of the Opera and Cyrano’s metaphoric mask (a.k.a. Christian) in Cyrano de Bergerac – and what each of our own metaphoric masks (the things we do and don’t say…the feelings we do and don’t express…the fears, insecurities, and scars we do and don’t let show…the private and public personas we create) say about us and our relationships with the world around us (the people we accept and reject – the reasons that we see them the way we do).

I wasn’t really sure how I was going to distill all of the ideas I had into a cohesive whole (especially since I kept having them while driving on the interstate), but when I got back home, I ran across the following quote in the transcript of an interview with Lady Gaga, who was speaking about “Perfect Illusion,” the lead single from her new album Joanne. It may not approach the ideas I had exactly the same way I would have approached them – or say exactly the same things I would have said about them – but neither of those differences makes her sentiments any less relevant – or appropriate – to share.

“I believe many of us are wondering why there are so many fake things around us. How do we navigate through social media? How do we look through these images that we know are filtered and altered, and decipher what is reality and what is a perfect illusion? There are also a lot of things on the internet that are not reality. And I think people are pressured to keep that personal illusion going on in their real lives. So this song is about raging against it and letting it go. It’s about wanting people to re-establish that human connection.”

 

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