I passed someone by the lake this morning wearing a mask. My first thought was a judgement. I criticized her for being so fearful.

Then I remembered A Course in Miracles, which says, “The ego always speaks first. It’s voice is always the loudest. And it is always wrong.”

My second thought was an inquiry, coming from curiosity, and therefore coming from my heart. “Maybe she is immune compromised, gets sick easily, and feels safer wearing it.”

That felt more compassionate.

My next thought was that maybe she was getting over Covid or something and wanted to protect others from catching watch she had. Perhaps she was a compassionate person expressing caring and concern, not fear.

Ah, the relief of getting past my first reactions…

Masks are not always visible.

When you sense that someone is wearing a social mask, why not send them some love as well. No matter how confident the person wearing the mask appears to be, underneath it is probably insecurity, anxiety, fear.

Now, here’s the advanced course in compassion: Whenever you become aware that you yourself are wearing a mask rather than being your authentic self, give yourself some extra love and celebration. Celebrate your self-honesty. It takes courage to admit it when you’re not being authentic.

In fact, statistics show that it usually takes a sincere seeker an average of 15.7 years in therapy and 12.3 years in daily meditative practice to get to the point of discovering the social masks they put on to protect themselves.

Never mind that I made those numbers up just for the fun of it. There must be a valid point in there anyway, somewhere.

Now, here’s the graduate workshop: When you see someone who is married to their mask, who probably sleeps with it, and even dreams with it, send them some extra love. Some people, perhaps Donald Trump being an efficient example, spend their whole life on stage, and they never get to experience how it feels to be who they really are. No matter how much fame or fortune, these folks are seriously impoverished, suffering on a deep level.

Can you send them love? You don’t have to like their mask or agree with their politics, but you can have some compassion that their stage make-up seems to be permanently plastered to their face.

Finally, here’s an invitation to dialogue. What’s your mask? I’ll go first. Mine is being clever, witty, the life of the party. Sometimes that’s how I really feel, but other times it’s not authentic self-expression at all. Often behind it is a deep insecurity and sense of unworthiness that I’m not willing or ready to face.

When I am wearing this Life of the Party mask, I usually notice loneliness behind my facade, no matter how smashing my performance and no matter how much it is appreciated.

What about you? What’s your favorite mask to wear in social situations?

Hey, there is no shame in revealing your masks. We wouldn’t be on this planet if we weren’t skilled in self-deception.

We are all playing hide and seek, and wearing large amounts of make-up, making up our personas on a daily basis.

Let’s have a Facebook coming out party. I’ll show you mine, you show me yours.

Who wants to play?

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